PA7: SafeSport Clears Nothstein
Marty Nothstein, GOP candidate for Pennsylvania’s 7th congressional district has been cleared by SafeSport of wrongdoing in a sexual misconduct investigation. His campaign published an email it hopes will put the monthslong issue to rest.
Michael Henry, SafeSport’s director of investigations and outcomes, wrote:
“The Center [for SafeSport] has completed its inquiry and has determined that, based on the information and evidence currently available, the Center is not proceeding with any further proceedings at this time and the matter is now closed.”
SafeSport joined Upper Macungie Township police, who investigated the claim in found it meritless in February.
It answered one of the biggest questions from the Aug. 17 Allentown Morning Call report revealing that Nothstein had lost his position at the local nonprofit in large part due to the allegations. The Lehigh Valley velodrome forced him out of his position as executive director after the board learned of the investigation.
No details from the allegations have yet been publicly revealed, beyond the fact that they regarded events from 2000.
Nothstein immediately and vociferously denied the allegations, holding a press conference the same day as the news report. He and has campaign have sharply criticized the Morning Call’s reporting process. He continued the criticism in the follow-up press conference Friday.
Here are facts listed in chronological order from the initial report on Aug. 17 and the press conference held by Nothstein on Aug. 24 after SafeSport cleared him of wrongdoing.
- Nothstein, a gold medal-winning Olympic cyclist, served as executive director of the Lehigh Valley velodrome from 2008 until February this year.
- The velodrome board voted to place Nothstein on unpaid leave in February after learning that Nothstein was the subject of a sexual misconduct investigation.
- A sexual misconduct claim was lodged with U.S. Center for SafeSport, the nonprofit designated to review allegations related to the U.S. Olympic Committee. SafeSport’s investigation process is long and opaque, and the organization has a backlog of cases.
- SafeSport sent an email to the Nothstein campaign Thursday, Aug. 23, clearing Nothstein of wrongdoing in the sexual misconduct investigation.
- A sexual misconduct claim was lodged with the Upper Macungie Township police.
- The Upper Macungie Township police investigated the claim and found it to be “meritless” under Pa. criminal law.
- Nothstein said after the initial report that the two claims are one and the same and the accusations were “100 percent false” and a “political hit job.”
- The Morning Call had been unable to independently verify that the two claims were one and the same.
- In each claim, the alleged incident took place in 2000.
- The accusations were filed less than two weeks after Nothstein began his big for Congress in the fall. A risk protection manager who fields claims about abuse, received the complaint about Nothstein on October 30, 11 days after he had publicly announced his big for Congress.
- “It’s coming from an anonymous tipster, someone standing in the shadows,” Nothstein said at the Aug 17 press conference.
- “The alleged misconduct may have occurred at the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown, according to a February email to the board from Andy Ralston, then board president, that was recently reviewed by reporters,” the Morning Call reported on Aug 17.
- Nothstein said he was notified by USA Cycling Feb. 9 about the allegation and had not been interviewed by SafeSport, despite seeking to be interviewed to conclude the case. Nothstein said he reached out via email to SafeSport on April 27 and followed up June 29, but the investigator’s didn’t need to interview him “at this time.”
- At his Aug 17 press conference, Nothstein vehemently denied the claims.“There are no accusers in this case. The women identified to investigators deny that any misconduct occurred.”
- Nothstein was very critical of the Morning Call’s reporting on the matter on Aug 17: “The reporters have not been interested in getting at the truth or falsity of this accusation,” Nothstein said. “They are content to report that there is an ‘investigation’ into me. Despite reporting the existence of the investigation, by their own admission in today’s story, The Morning Call reporters admit they cannot determine any facts in the case.”
- Closing out this press conference, Nothstein reiterated his defense. “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.”
- On Aug. 17, Democratic candidate, Susan Wild responded to the unfolding story. “Like the people of Pennsylvania’s 7th District, the first I learned about this situation was today’s Morning Call report. These are serious allegations involving a partially taxpayer-funded organization where a suspension, investigation, and termination were made. There are clearly questions to be answered, and I hope that the full facts of this incident are made available to the public in a timely and thorough manner.”
- On Aug 24., Nothstein, accompanied by two attorneys, stated at a press conference that he received an email from SafeSpot the day before clearing him of wrongdoing on the allegation of sexual misconduct.
- During the address on Aug. 24, Nothstein reiterated his denial of the allegations made, but was satisfied to relay the information from the SafeSpot email, “the email yesterday was finally some good news.”
- Nothstein and Wild also traded jabs in the Morning Call’s story on the Aug 24 press conference. Nothstein said Wild was “was quick to capitalize on this situation.” “It took them no time to begin working this smear into the narrative of the campaign,” Nothstein said. “The full facts are now coming to light. But I doubt it’s going to improve my opponent’s political behavior.”
- In the Morning Call’s story on Aug. 24, Wild responded, “My opponent is simply throwing distractions at the voters of the 7th District and hoping something sticks,” Wild said, saying she intends to “continue focusing on and talking about the issues that matter to middle-class Pennsylvanians.”
The Morning Call’s Reporting
- The award-winning team of reporters who wrote the August 17 story includes:
- Nicole Radzievich, who has worked at the Call for 17 years;
- Steve Esack, who has worked at the Call for 15 years and currently is the paper’s Harrisburg correspondent;
- Tom Shortell, who has covered Lehigh Valley for 8 years, first for the Express-Times and later the Call;
- And Laura Olsen has covered campaign politics for 9 years and has worked as the Call’s DC correspondent since 2014.
- Reporters at the Morning Call first learned three months ago that Nothstein had been pushed out of his position at the velodrome.
- Nothstein is a candidate for congress and a sitting Lehigh County Commissioner. At the time he was employed by a nonprofit partially funded by tax dollars. There is virtually no definition of newsworthiness that would not include this situation.
- The Call reporters were stymied by SafeSport’s no-comment policy and the refusal of velodrome board members to fully disclose the allegations.
- Nothstein’s campaign accused Morning Call reporters of refusing to review affidavits from the women named in the allegation which purportedly exonerated Nothstein.
- Regarding the specific question of the affidavits, Morning Call interim editor-in-chief Terry Rang defended the paper’s decision on Aug. 17.
- “During a phone call in May, Marty Nothstein’s campaign consultants Dennis Roddy and Mark Harris said they would disclose to us the identity of two women whom they said they believed but could not prove were the subjects of the SafeSport investigation and provide statements by them that the allegations were unfounded. However, Roddy told our reporters that the campaign would only produce the women’s statements with two conditions: The Morning Call could not print or quote from them, or interview the women to verify the veracity of their statements. We could not accept the statements under those conditions.”
- At the Aug. 17 press conference, Nothstein’s attorney declined to make the affidavits public or release the signers’ names.
- Rang issued a statement Friday, Aug. 24 in response to Nothstein’s press conference:
- “The Morning Call accurately reported on the velodrome board’s action to put Marty Nothstein on unpaid leave in February after learning that the U.S. Center for SafeSport was investigating an allegation of sexual misconduct against Nothstein. The newspaper stands by its story.”
What We Still Don’t Know:
- Who made the unspecified sexual misconduct claims.
- The specific details of the claims.
- Any final settlement between Nothstein and the velodrome. Nothstein said Aug. 17 that he did not receive financial settlement from the velodrome.
- Whether Nothstein, now cleared, would return to the Valley Preferred Cycling Center in Trexlertown as Executive Director. He declined comment on the issue on August 24.