The four Jane Doe plaintiffs suing Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage and others have turned down a pretty big financial relief package.
However, if the anonymous Schuylkill County government employees agreed to take this settlement money, they would have had to drop their lawsuit.
In a Proposed Consent Decree made available to The Canary, it’s revealed the Jane Doe plaintiffs, as a group, were offered $850,000 (plus money for attorneys’ fees and costs) to settle their lawsuit against Halcovage and the County government.
$850K Settlement Offer Rejected by Jane Doe Plaintiffs in Sexual Harassment Case
Attorney Catherine Smith, who represents the four Jane Doe plaintiffs, says the money was offered as part of settlement negotiations.
“This offer required resolution of their claims and could have limited what the public was permitted to learn of the facts,” Smith says in a statement to The Canary.
She says that while financial restitution is important to her clients, they’re fighting for more.
Smith adds, “My clients believe, as important as the financial compensation for the harms they suffered is, the public’s ability to hear all the facts and circumstances which support their claims is more important.”
Settlement Proposed in DOJ Case v. Schuylkill County Government
At the most recent Schuylkill County Commissioners meeting, the board approved a motion to agree to terms of a settlement on the US Dept. of Justice’s claims against the County government.
The DOJ announced later in the week that it agreed to the proposed settlement but it’ll still require approval from US Magistrate Judge Martin Carlson.
That settlement doesn’t affect the initial lawsuit filed by the Jane Doe plaintiffs and for now, it appears they’re continuing their fight.
The plaintiffs allege that Halcovage sexually harassed them for years while they were employed by the County and he served as Commissioner. They also allege that other County officials – like Administrator Gary Bender and Solicitor Glenn Roth – were complicit in this alleged behavior because they failed to act on filed complaints.
Further, the Jane Doe plaintiffs believe they’ve been subjected to workplace retaliation since filing the lawsuit.
At the vote to agree to the settlement terms, Halcovage voted against the agreement and issued a public statement in which he says his agreeing to it would basically admit he’s guilty.
He then, as he has since the lawsuit was first filed, maintained his innocence. Halcovage said Wednesday that he hoped for his chance to tell his side of the story.
If the settlement offer recently approved by the Schuylkill County Commissioners and DOJ is accepted by the judge in the case, the initial lawsuit won’t be affected and will continue to move toward a trial date.