Valentino “Val” DiGiorgio III, the chairman of the Pennsylvania Republican Party, friend requested Irina Goldstein after she liked a Facebook photograph of a group of people that included him. When Goldstein realized who he was, she sent him a message.
“I’m running for City Council,” she wrote. “Next time you’re in Philly, I’d be honored to buy you coffee.”
Over the next two days, a flurry of messages were exchanged between them, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. She sought his advice and his support and the messages often became flirtatious. She sometimes referenced sex acts in her messages, and eventually he sent her a photograph of an erect penis. After that, they continued to talk online for over four months
She eventually became uncomfortable with the exchanges, which stopped in February when she told him he was more or less “sexually harassing” her.
DiGiorgio, who is 51 and married with children, replied that he did nothing wrong and that he had been a “perfect gentleman” the one time that they met.
When the Inquirer reported Goldstein’s allegations, DiGiorgio stepped down from his position. Joel Frank, the general counsel for the state Republican Party who acted as a lawyer for DiGiorgio , said the messages were “mutual private exchanges between adults.” He also said Goldstein’s allegations were “a mischaracterization, incomplete and defamatory.”
Goldstein said that she was asked to sign a nondisclosure agreement to stop her from criticizing DiGiorgio.
When they first began to interact, Goldstein was eager for help with her political campaign. DiGiorgio consistently commented on her looks. He told her that her good looks could be a “double-edged sword” that would hinder people from taking her seriously.
She answered: “It keeps them engaged when they realize there’s levels to it.” She added: “You’d be surprised how many young people are ready and desperate for someone on the right that looks and thinks like me. So while it’s a thin and daring line to walk, I’m all too happy to do it.”
He continued to comment on her appearance, asking for a photo of her lips. Eventually, she also began to send flirtatious texts. When they made plans for dinner, he wrote, “Don’t pout or look me too long in the eyes and you’ll be safe.”
“Is this what you do? Make women blush and charm them into liking you … charm their pants off?” Goldstein asked.
“Think I can charm them off?” he replied.
“I can’t blame you for trying,” she wrote back. “But I have a pretty high moral ground I follow.”
“Good to know,” DiGiorgio said.
At some point, DiGiorgio suggested that they stop using Facebook messenger to talk and use Snapchat instead for more security. “Snapchat deletes. Text is forever,” he wrote.
Their texts soon became more graphic as she asked him to lightly choke her during intercourse. She also asked him to send her photographs. He sent her the photo of the erect penis, which she took a screenshot of.
Later on, Goldstein told the Inquirer that she saved the photo because “I didn’t really feel safe with this man.” She felt like she was “in a weird predicament” but “would just play along with it.”
She eventually broke off communications, writing: “While the conversations have been entertaining and you’re tempting and I’m flattered by your approaching me and attention, I prefer to do the fair and right thing.”
He replied, “I got it. Was having the same thought.”
Still, she continued to seek his advice about her campaign, and rumors were floating around about their interactions. Digiorgio messaged her saying he was being called “regularly now” about her.
“Anyway, people increasingly are telling me that you, or a friend of yours, have been talking about communications between you and me. So that’s a problem too,” he messaged her on Facebook. “And the problem is, some of these people talking about this are not my friends.”
“Val I can’t speak for anyone or anything. I will deny it all. Not sure what else you want. I’m not your problem so focus on what you need. If I wanted to say or do anything I wouldn’t wait 5 months.”
They eventually began to argue. He said he had been “more generous with my time and giving advice to you than any other candidate.”
In response, she said his generosity amounted to sexual harassment.
The primary for her political campaign finally happened on May 21. She finished last out of seven Republican candidates.
Read the full story here.