Schuylkill County was ordered Tuesday to make public a surveillance video purportedly showing Commissioner George Halcovage scaling an embankment next to the Courthouse.
The video, Halcovage’s detractors say, shows proof that the Commissioner scaled the embankment to harass or intimidate two alleged victims of his sexual harassment at the Courthouse.
Halcovage denies any wrongdoing related to findings from an internal Courthouse investigation into his alleged workplace behavior. That investigation, concluded earlier this year, found the Commissioner violated several workplace policies, including sexual harassment.
State Orders Schuylkill County to Release Halcovage Tape
Allegedly, four women claim to be recent victims of Halcovage’s untoward treatment at work in the Courthouse. At least two of the women have filed a lawsuit against the County and Halcovage.
Since the County investigation concluded, several people have taken a lead in constantly calling for Halcovage to resign as Schuylkill Commissioner. At public meetings, these detractors have hurled accusations at Halcovage that aim to prove he’s guilty of more than just workplace misconduct.
The Pennsylvania Attorney General is reportedly currently investigating the accusations against Halcovage to determine if criminal charges are necessary.
Most recently, those detractors have claimed there’s surveillance footage taken outside Schuylkill County Courthouse showing Halcovage climbing an embankment (shown above) wearing a suit. When he reaches the top, rather than go toward the Courthouse security entrance, as Halcovage has reportedly claimed he was doing, he heads in the opposite direction.
That’s where two of his alleged victims were in a car purportedly speaking with their attorney.
Some have questioned if this video even exists. Based on a response to a Right to Know Law request from one Schuylkill County resident, it definitely appears there is a video. What it actually shows remains somewhat of a mystery.
Pennsylvania’s Office of Open Records ruled Tuesday that the mystery video must be released within 30 days. The County can appeal the decision if it chooses. Otherwise, the video will be made public.
Open Records Fight Over Halcovage Tape
The fight for the Halcovage tape started with a local Right to Know request filed with Schuylkill County by Doug Litwhiler, Ringtown. Litwhiler is someone who frequently attends public meetings of Schuylkill County Commissioners and maintains a contentious but professional tone.
Litwhiler sought this alleged video from the County. However, Schuylkill County tried arguing that making the video public would create a public safety concern. The County, through Sheriff Joe Groody, says releasing the video would reveal to the public areas of the Schuylkill County Courthouse parking lot that aren’t under video surveillance.
However, the Pennsylvania OOR said that argument has no merit.
“The County has not presented sufficient evidence to demonstrate how disclosure of the requested surveillance video footage would be reasonably likely to pose threat to public safety and the security of the County’s public building,” OOR Appeals Officer Jill Wolfe says in granting the RTK request.
The County also argued that it couldn’t release the video to the public because it’s part of ongoing legal investigations into the Halcovage sage. OOR also denied that argument.
“The County has not demonstrated that the video taken here has any connection to any criminal investigation conducted by the County,” Wolfe says.
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