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Schuylkill County News

Jane Doe Lawyer Says Halcovage Violated Gag Order at a Funeral

Laywer asks judge to hold Schuylkill Commissioner in contempt.

halcovage contempt

The lawyer representing the Jane Doe plaintiffs suing Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage for sexual harassment says the Commissioner violated a confidentiality order put in place by the judge overseeing the case.

She asks the judge in the case to find Halcovage and his attorney, Gerard Geiger, in contempt and to sanction them.

In a court filing this week, Catherine Smith, who represents the 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs, alleges Halcovage violated that confidentiality order by talking about recent depositions taken in the case with a former Schuylkill County employee at a funeral in January.

Halcovage is accused of a pattern of sexual harassment over the course of several years against the 4 anonymous Courthouse employees, including making sexual advances on at least one of the women.

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He’s denied any wrongdoing since the women filed their lawsuit against him in 2021. Halcovage, despite his denials, is also facing possible impeachment and removal from office.

Lawyer Asks Judge to Hold Commissioner Halcovage in Contempt

Smith requests US District Magistrate Martin Carlson hold Halcovage and his attorney in contempt for the Commissioner’s alleged conversation he had a funeral on Jan. 20, 2023.

At that funeral, Halcovage allegedly approached Paul Straka, described in Smith’s filing as a former Schuylkill County employee, last employed in 2013, at a funeral.

Straka allegedly said that Halcovage told him, “your name was brought up in depositions” taken in the case, just days prior.

Halcovage apparently said to Straka that Jane Doe 3 – whom he referred to by her first name – “brought up your name and mentioned that you said that I used the county supplies for my insurance business.”

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Back on the 10th, during her deposition testimony, Smith notes in her filing that Jane Doe 3 answered questions about a comment she’d made about Halcovage’s alleged use of and ordering County supplies for his insurance business.

Jane Doe 3 said during deposition that she made the comment because it was what she’d heard from a former employee in the Commissioners office. She said that former employee was Straka.

So, what Smith is alleging is that Halcovage heard this testimony and then days later, at a funeral, approached the former employee Straka and questioned him about what Jane Doe 3 revealed in her testimony.

The Jane Doe plaintiffs learned of this funeral conversation after Jane Doe 4 spoke with Straka on Jan. 21, a day after the funeral. That’s when Straka allegedly told her about the conversation he’d had a day prior with Halcovage.

Jane Doe 4 then told Smith about what she’d heard and the Jane Doe legal team attempted to contact Straka to get him to put this into the case record.

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Straka, however, resisted, claiming he’s currently employed by Schuylkill County government contractor.

“I am very cautious about inserting myself into this issue,” Straka wrote in response to Smith’s paralegal, who was looking to get something on the record from the former employee.

Smith believes the alleged conversation Halcovage had with Straka at that funeral, soon after the deposition, was in violation of a confidentiality order put in place on Nov. 21, 2021.

Further, Smith says that at the start of Jane Doe 3’s deposition on Jan. 9-10 of this year, lawyers from each side did not resist calls to keep the contents of the deposition under wraps for 30 days.

On Feb. 7, Smith deposed Halcovage and asked him if he’d recently spoken with Straka. Smith says in her court filing that Halcovage admitted seeing Straka at that funeral.

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Halcovage apparently said, “I understand that (Straka) knows that I purchased things for my insurance business.”

However, Halcovage refused to say that he’d approached Straka at that funeral to say where he’d heard that. The Commissioner says he didn’t tell Straka that one of the Jane Doe plaintiffs mentioned it in her depositions.

“I didn’t tell him where I heard it,” Halcovage purportedly said in the deposition.

Smiths says this borderline witness intimidation justifies Carlson holding Halcovage in contempt of court.

“Defendant Halcovage’s conduct with respect to his conversations with Paul
Straka not only violated the Stipulated Discovery Confidentiality Order, which his
counsel agreed to on his behalf, and which this Honorable Court Ordered, but it
also borders on witness intimidation. This warrants a finding of civil contempt,
imposition of sanctions, and an award of attorneys’ fees and costs,” Smith argues.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. It's me

    February 18, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Apparently, he thinks everyone is on his side.

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