The federal judge presiding over the Jane Doe v. Schuylkill County sexual harassment lawsuit ruled recently that Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage can be present when his accusers are deposed. But there’s a stipulation to that ruling.
US Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson ruled on April 13 that the embattled Halcovage can be present when the Jane Doe plaintiffs suing him and other Courthouse officials are deposed. However, rather than having these depositions recorded at Schuylkill County Courthouse, as originally planned, it’ll happen at the federal courthouse in Harrisburg.
“While we would encourage the parties to consider conducting these depositions remotely, if the defendant insists upon in-person depositions, those depositions will be conducted at the United States Courthouse, Harrisburg,” the court ruling reads.
Halcovage Can Be Present at Jane Doe Discovery Depositions
As part of the discovery process in this case, Halcovage’s attorney, Gerard Geiger, has asked to depose the Commissioner’s accusers. Those are 4 women who work as Schuylkill County government employees.
Last year, these employees filed a federal lawsuit against Halcovage, accusing him of everything from non-consensual sex to inappropriate comments at work.
Geiger suggested he depose the Jane Doe plaintiffs at the Courthouse in Pottsville and when he does, he’d need to have Halcovage present to help in his questioning.
The Jane Doe plaintiffs objected to this and said they should be protected from having any contact with Halcovage because of the Sexual Violence Protection Order filed against the Commissioner. They’d rather Halcovage attend the depositions remotely.
“The dispute between the parties calls upon us to reconcile competing, important interests,” the order reads.
In order to reconcile this hang-up in the proceedings, the court says it must consider the “spirit” of the SVPO and Halcovage’s right to assist his attorney while not putting the alleged victims through unnecessary trauma.
Carlson ordered the depositions be taken at his place of employment in Harrisburg so he could “monitor, oversee, and intervene in the depositions if necessary.”
Additionally, when the depositions are taken, Halcovage will not be allowed in the room where it happens until the plaintiff being questioned is seated.
“He will not speak to the deponent and will be seated in an appropriately remote location within the courtroom consistent with the degree of social distancing which would otherwise exist at trial,” the order reads.
When the plaintiffs have concluded their depositions, they’ll be allowed to leave the room in a way that allows them to avoid any contact with Halcovage. And the Commissioner must not participate in any “disruptive or intimidating non-verbal communication or conduct,” the order concludes.