By Andy Sheehan

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — State fire commissioner Tim Solobay stepped down Sunday with the resurfacing of a sexual harassment claim filed six years ago by Rachel Moore, who worked as an aide to Solobay when he was still a state senator.

At the time, he denied Moore’s claim that he slapped her on her rear end in his Harrisburg office, but on Sunday, he tendered his resignation to Governor Wolf.

“What’s happening in Harrisburg today demonstrates that Harrisburg is not immune to some of the issues that’s been happening, whether it’s in Hollywood or many other state capitals,” Dana Brown, a Chatham University political science professor, said.

Solobay becomes just the latest to be embroiled in misconduct allegations.

Just two weeks ago, Larry Wittig, stepped down as chairman of the state Board of Education, amid allegations that he had relations with teenage girls some 36 years ago.

State Rep. Thomas Caltagirone has refused to resign following revelations that the state shelled out $248,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim of a former longtime employee.

Brown says Harrisburg is dominated by male politicians.

“And so when you have all men in all of these leadership positions, it’s really difficult for women to come forward and feel that they will be believed,” Brown said.

For his part, Solobay declined KDKA-TV’s request for an interview today, sending KDKA’s Andy Sheehan this statement instead:

“My only comment at this time is we will be retaining legal counsel to explore legal options.”

But while not the first to be accused in Harrisburg — given the tide sweeping the nation — he most certainly won’t be the last. And Brown believes we will see change at the ballot box.

“There do seem to be real opportunities now in Pennsylvania and nationally for this to become a year for women to be heard and elected in a way that we haven’t seen in 20 years,” she said.

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