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Schuylkill County Me Too

“Jane Does” Claim Roth, Bender, Others Knew for Years But Did Nothing

We’ve detailed some of the shocking allegations leveled at Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage in a new 75-page federal sexual harassment, discrimination, and workplace intimidation lawsuit.

Some are wondering why it took nearly 10 years, in some cases, for the women who filed the lawsuit – collectively known as Jane Doe and Jane Doe 2, 3, and 4 – to do so. In their court filing, the women allege that the other individual Defendants named in the suit failed to act.

Throughout the lawsuit, the women allege Schuylkill County Solicitor and Risk Manager Glenn Roth, County Administrator Gary Bender, and others at the Courthouse were aware of Halcovage’s words and actions but did little, if anything, to stop it.

“Halcovage verbally, mentally, and physically abused (the Jane Does) and treated them in a demeaning and inferior manner, which no reasonable person could be expected to endure,” the lawsuit reads. “Bender and Roth often observed this demeaning and verbally, mentally, and physically abusing behavior and did not[sic] about it.”

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And the women say in the lawsuit that they’d seen and heard enough on their own to know that coming forward or demanding action be taken against Halcovage would be fruitless.

Halcovage has denied all accusations against him to date. Other County officials have turned aside media questions. The women seek unspecified damages from the county and the defendants at the end of a jury trial.

Coincidentally, last year, when an internal Courthouse investigation revealed that Halcovage did violate several workplace rules, it was Roth who conducted much of the investigation and ultimately issued the ruling against the Commissioner.

Lawsuit: Roth, Bender, Others Accused of Failing to Act on Halcovage Harassment, Discrimination

We’ve combed the entire lawsuit and found instances in which the women claim Roth and/or Bender either said they’d do something to address things they’d seen or heard or when the Jane Does’ complaints fell on deaf ears.

But that wasn’t all they’re accused of doing (or not doing). In addition to turning a blind eye to some of Halcovage’s alleged workplace behavior, the Jane Does also say Roth and Bender are guilty, too.

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Like, one time during an election, the lawsuit spells out one particular instance of this. Jane Doe 4 says there was some discussion about her getting paid for working the election polls. She believe Roth, Halcovage, and County Administrator Gary Bender had a discussion about it and the day after the election, Bender told Roth that Doe 4 wouldn’t get paid for her work.

For some reason, Roth said to Doe 4, “I am not fighting for you,” the lawsuit alleges in a degrading tone. Doe 4 said Roth’s tone brought her to tears and believes he would not have talked to her in such a way if she were a man.

Then, relatively recently in November 2019, Jane Doe 3 said she witnessed Roth, for an unknown reason, tell County Mapper Deanna Carl that he was going to “punch her in the face.” Doe 3 says in the lawsuit that this only “intensified her feelings that reporting Halcovage’s unlawful behavior would be futile.”

Of course, there were the incidents in which Roth was told about Halcovage’s alleged behavior but the Jane Does claim they saw no reaction from the Solicitor.

Ignoring Alleged Sexual Harassment

The Jane Does say in their lawsuit that Roth and Bender failed to act on claims of sexual harassment on the part of Halcovage. For instance:

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Jane Doe 3 says Halcovage told her one day that “Jim McNulty thinks ‘you are really good-looking’.” Apparently Doe 3 said something to Roth, to which he responded, the lawsuit alleges.

“Roth, on numerous occasions told (Jane) Doe 3, ‘We’re going to have to talk to (Halcovage) about his behavior’,” the suit reads. “Roth nor Bender took any corrective action in regard to Halcovage and discriminatory comment.”

By “we”, Doe 3 alleges, she means Roth and Bender.

Then there was the alleged incidents with the freeze pops. The lawsuit claims Halcovage had been making inappropriate comments about them to Doe 4, who ate them after running.

On one occasion, Doe 3, Doe 4’s supervisor, allegedly heard Halcovage say “Wow, I like the way your mouth is around that.” And then in another incident, Doe 4 says Halcovage referred to a freeze pop in Doe 3’s mouth as “a big one.”

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Doe 4 reported that comment to Doe 3, who informed Roth of it. But Doe 3 and Doe 4 claim Roth never took any action on it.

Doe 4 also says Halcovage made inappropriate comments to her about her “parking” with her husband on lunch breaks. She says in the lawsuit that Roth and Bender each knew about these comments, too, but did nothing.

Roth and Bender were also allegedly “often” present or were the direct recipient of Halcovage comments about Jane Doe’s supervisor at the Courthouse, the lawsuit says. She says in the lawsuit they each heard Halcovage refer to the supervisor as a “lesbian” and “carpet muncher” but “did not reprimand Halcovage nor tell him the behavior was inappropriate.”

The suit continues: “Roth nor Bender conducted any investigation, did not report Halcovage’s behavior to HR, they did not ask (the supervisor) if the comments and conduct were unwelcome, nor did they take any remedial action.”

The Jane Does say in their court filing that when Roth and Bender did nothing, they believed that “reporting Halcovage’s unlawful treatment of them would be futile.”

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Then there was an alleged incident at a event where Halcovage was present with Doe 2 and Doe 2’s husband at the time. At that event, Halcovage is accused of saying to Doe 2’s husband, “Thanks for letting me use your wife for the last 4 hours.”

The lawsuit alleges Roth overheard this comment and Roth allegedly said the comments made him uncomfortable. He also allegedly said, “(Halcovage) didn’t have to say it that way.”

But like the other times these things are alleged to have happened, Roth is accused of not acting on it in any official capacity.

Ignoring Alleged Sexual Misconduct

The lawsuit also claims Roth and other “supervisory employees” witnessed Halcovage take Doe into the Commissioners boardroom alone. Additionally, Roth is accused of “taking various females into an empty office located in a deserted location in the Courthouse.”

On each of these occasions, Roth is accused of not reporting what he’d allegedly witnessed. The lawsuit also claims Roth “knew that Halcovage was likely attempting to engage in sexual relations” with the women he is alleged to have taken to that deserted area of the Courthouse.

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Then there was an alleged incident in which Doe 4 says she was on her way out of the Courthouse one day to get lunch. She says in the lawsuit that Halcovage brought up former President Donald Trump in discussion. Doe 4 says she was previously forced to change her political affiliation to Republican and apparently didn’t agree with what Halcovage was saying.

She says that she “got passionate about the subject, which was evident from her change in tone of voice and mannerisms.” So, Halcovage interrupted, she says, and said “Let’s just go have sex right now.”

After Doe 4 says she turned down the Commissioner on his alleged offer, she reported it to Doe 3 who reported it to Roth. However, Roth is once again accused of not acting on this information.

Ignoring Discrimination

The lawsuit also alleges that Roth and Bender failed to act on complaints of workplace discrimination.

In July 2016, Doe 3 says she overheard Halcovage refer to a woman working in the Courthouse as “not the smartest tool in the shed.” Doe 3 believes this comment was made because the employee targeted by the remark was a woman.

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In fact, between 2016 and 2019, the Jane Does believe Roth and Bender “witnessed inappropriate and unlawful sexual discrimination” by Halcovage by did nothing to prevent it or stop it.

Sexual Harassment Training

Roth is also accused of doing nothing about Halcovage allegedly not finishing mandatory sexual harassment training after the County passed a new workplace policy on the subject.

The lawsuit says Halcovage allegedly signed a paper indicating he’d completed the training. However, when Doe 3 asked Roth if the Commissioner had completed it, Roth told her Halcovage “never finished the training.”

“Roth and Bender knew this and did nothing about it,” the lawsuit reads.

There are numerous other incidents detailed in the lawsuit which allege similar inactivity from people the Jane Does say had the authority to something. Instead, they allege, Roth, Bender and the other Defendants named intentionally created a hostile, stressful, and retaliatory work environment.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Mary Alice Leskin

    March 28, 2021 at 11:10 am

    Very good!

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