The Schuylkill County Solicitor’s Office stated Tuesday that Commissioners Chair George Halcovage violated the County’s Sexual Harassment Policy and other policies.
The County Solicitor’s Office released the details of its investigation into Halcovage Tuesday.
“While many of the allegations made by the Employees were denied by Commissioner Halcovage, it is apparent, based on the County’s internal investigation, that Mr. Halcovage has violated the Sexual Harassment Policy #2005-18 (Revised September 2013), the Conduct and Disciplinary Action Policy #2005-19; and the Physical and Verbal Abuse Policy #2007-02 (Revised March, 2007),” a statement from the Solicitor’s Office reads.
No other details of the allegations will be released by the Schuylkill County Solicitor’s Office. The statement from them also reads, “Given that this incident does involve
personnel, involves multiple attorneys, and may proceed to litigation, the County may not provide specific details of the allegations made by the Employees or the specific findings of the internal investigation.”
Schuylkill County Solicitor Says Halcovage Violated Sexual Harassment Policy
The statement from the Solicitor’s Office today details a timeline of events in its investigation into allegations against Halcovage, who just successfully won re-election in 2019. Halcovage has been a Schuylkill County Commissioner since 2012.
Halcovage Allegations Timeline
According to the statement, here’s how things went down at the Courthouse:
- May 22: In the morning, Schuylkill County HR Director Deborah Twigg receives “serious allegations” against Halcovage. Those allegations include sexual harassment involving “several female County Employees.” At this time, the County also learns one of the employees lawyered up and all its questions should go to her attorney.County HR notifies Schuylkill County Administrator Gary Bender of the allegations. Bender directs HR to conduct an internal investigation, per County policy.Later on the 22nd, the County begins conducting interviews on the allegations. Halcovage is notified of the allegations. Fellow Commissioners Boots Hetherington and Gary Hess get notified of the allegations, too, on the same day.
- More Interviews: Following an initial round of interviews with parties involved, Bender told HR and First Assistant County Solicitor Glenn Roth to do the rest of the interviews.
- HR: The County made sure Halcovage didn’t have contact with the accusing employees “to ensure that they felt comfortable in the workplace”. The Solicitor’s Office doesn’t detail the “steps” it took to ensure there’d be no contact.
- June 10: Halcovage tells Schuylkill County HR that he’s got an attorney and the County conducts a first interview with Halcovage, with his lawyer present.
- June 16: Roth and County HR conduct an interview with the “employee making the most serious allegations” against Halcovage, along with her attorney being present.
- June 23: Just last week, Roth and HR conduct a second interview with Halcovage and his attorney. During that interview, “he was questioned regarding specific allegations made against him by the employees.”
The Solicitor’s Office statement says, “The County conducted its internal investigation through HR as it does with any other allegation involving County personnel. This investigation was conducted as expeditiously as possible but took some time given the number of interviews that needed to be conducted and that there were multiple attorneys involved.”
No Complaints Before May 22
The Solicitor’s Office says “no complaints were made against Commissioner Halcovage by any of the Employees prior to May 22, 2020.”
Options for Halcovage, Schuylkill County
Despite the Solicitor’s Office determining that Halcovage violated these County policies, the fact that this case involves a County Commissioner means it’s treated differently.
The Solicitor’s Office statement spells it out: “If this investigation involved a County department head, the department head would be suspended immediately
pending investigation followed by a recommendation of employment termination.”
But, County Administration and other Commissioners can not punish a County Commissioner, the office adds. So, here are the options:
- Halcovage Resigns: Halcovage could resign from office. However, his most recent statement says he “vehemently” denies these allegations, despite what the Solicitor’s office suggests.
- Halcovage Criminally Convicted: If these allegations make it to a court of law and Halcovage is found criminally liable, he could be removed from office.
- Impeachment: The Solicitor’s Office suggests impeachment as an option but only just mentions the word: “Neither County Administration nor other county commissioners may discipline a fellow county commissioner or remove him from office absent criminal conviction or impeachment.”
- Halcovage Stays in Office, Pending Litigation: Also, Halcovage could choose to live with the allegations as they are now and await any sort of legal action outside the County Employee disciplinary system. If he were to lose, he faces removal from office. However, the court could find him not guilty of the allegations and he’d continue with the rest of his term as County Commissioner.
Read the full statement from the Schuylkill County Solicitor’s Office:
Here’s a copy of the Schuylkill County Sexual Harassment Policy, last updated in September 2013:
schuylkill county Sexual Harrassment 2005-18 (2013)
And here’s a copy of the Schuylkill County Physical and Verbal Abuse Policy:
Schuylkill County Physical And Verbal Abuse Policy
Finally, here’s a copy of the Schuylkill County Conduct and Disciplinary Action Policy: