‘It’s time to end this sort of politics’ - Campaign manager says newspaper rejected evidence clearing Nothstein of sexual misconduct
It’s that bittersweet time of year when many parents see their college-bound children leave home for the first time. That includes Lehigh Valley congressional candidate Marty Nothstein and his wife, Christi. Their daughter left for Penn State Friday. Before that happened, the family awoke to a Morning Call story that placed Nothstein at the center of a supposed sexual misconduct investigation.
Nothstein is a candidate for the state’s newly created seventh congressional district.
“It was a tough day to send my daughter to school,” he would say later that day as he took his case to the public.
At a hastily called news conference, Nothstein denied any sexual misconduct as cameras flashed in a room full of both supporters and reporters. But for some, according to attorney William Chadwick, a former Philadelphia prosecutor retained by Nothstein, a headline asserting sexual misconduct is by itself enough. Chadwick noted that in the McCarthy era, accusations of communism were enough to ruin someone.
“Today, if you want to destroy someone, you accuse them of sexual misconduct,” he said.
The lengthy story in question is bylined by three reporters and states that it is the result of a three-month long investigation. It was published four days after the deadline for withdrawing from the race had passed. What this means is that, even if his family insisted, Nothstein would be unable to remove his name from the November ballot.
But Nothstein likes races, as proved by an Olympic Gold Medal he won in 2000, when cycling in the Summer Olympics.
The year 2000 is when the alleged sexual misconduct occurred. At that time, Nothstein said he was “living like a monk,” rising at 6 a.m. daily and going to sleep by 8 p.m. There was no report of misconduct then or in the years that followed.
Then this past February, an anonymous tipster, not one of the alleged victims, complained to USA Cycling about the 2000 incident 11 days after Nothstein had announced his candidacy for Congress. That tip was shared with SafeSport, an independent nonprofit committed to ending all forms of abuse in sports. It only reports on its investigations when disciplinary action has been taken. There is no report of any disciplinary action against Nothstein.
Also in February, an anonymous tipster contacted Upper Macungie police with the same accusations. The police and the Lehigh County DA’s office investigated and determined the complaints were groundless.
At the time of the anonymous tip, Nothstein was the Velodrome’s executive director. The Velodrome board placed him on administrative leave without pay in February, and then ended his contract. According to Attorney Chadwick, Nothstein is bound by confidentiality and unable to discuss his suspension publicly.
Nothstein says he first became aware of the identities of the two women involved from 2000 because they contacted him after being approached by The Morning Call. His campaign obtained written affidavits from both. The documents were offered to reporters on condition that there would be no quotations from the affidavits and the identity of the women would remain confidential. The offer was refused.
Reporters said they wanted to be able to speak to the women as well. Nothstein campaign manager Dennis Roddy says he obtained permission to share both affidavits, allow quotations and make both persons available but that offer was rejected, too.
At last Friday’s news conference, Morning Call reporters declined to respond to Nothstein’s statement that “Morning Call reporters declined to so much as meet with [the alleged victims] or examine their statements. Instead, we live in a time when anonymous people in the shadows can spread false allegations and get them into the media ... .”
Reporters at the news conference directed inquiries to Morning Call’s interim editor, Terry Rang. In a statement, Rang said the newspaper was unwilling to accept the affidavits under the conditions set by Roddy. But perhaps unknown to her, Roddy says he dropped those conditions. Efforts to reach her about Roddy’s second offer have thus far been unsuccessful.
“I want to say to the voters of this district: these are false accusations, planted just days after I began my candidacy. The presumed ‘victims’ themselves deny such a thing happened. It’s time to end this sort of politics. We should be talking about policy, not false rumors.”
Nothstein’s wife, Christi, also released a statement in response to The Morning Call story:
“I am asking that the people who are lying to destroy Marty’s campaign for Congress also understand that they are destroying people’s reputation and lives. They are hurting several families by dragging them into this fabricated scandal.”