Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage has admitted to having an extra-martial affair with one of the women suing him in federal court.
But he denied many of the allegations filed against him by her and the other plaintiffs in the case.
During sworn depositions held in November 2022, Halcovage told Allan Townsend, an attorney with the US Dept. of Justice Civil Rights Division that he did, indeed, have an affair with Jane Doe 1. It’s unclear, based on the transcripts made public in the case, exactly when this affair happened.
What was released to the public in court documents last week was the second day of deposition testimony. More than 80 pages were included of Halcovage’s testimony that day.
Some of the questioning cut right to the heart of the lawsuit and the allegations lobbed at him. Other questions, presumably based on allegations and some rumors since the lawsuit were filed, border on the plain bizarre.
The Halcovage deposition, along with depositions of the following people were released into the public record on Sept. 20 as evidence in the civil lawsuit:
- Schuylkill County Commissioner Barron Hetherington
- Schuylkill County Solicitor Glenn Roth
- Schuylkill County Administrator Gary Bender
- 3 former Human Resources Directors: Heidi Zula, Doreen Kutzler, Debra Twigg
A 2021 civil lawsuit filed by 4 Jane Doe plaintiffs alleged sexual harassment by Halcovage and a pattern of ignoring complaints of it and retaliation by government officials.
That lawsuit followed an apparent internal investigation done at Schuylkill County Courthouse which found Halcovage had violated several workplace policies.
Testimony shown in this article is taken verbatim from transcripts of the depositions. Some names – those not part of the lawsuit – have been redacted by The Canary.
Halcovage: “I believe that … we built a loving relationship.”
Here’s a short excerpt of the testimony from the deposition Halcovage gave on Nov. 3 of last year. In this section, Halcovage admits to having a sexual relationship with Jane Doe 1:
Townsend: So — so like I said, I had some more questions about your interactions with Jane Doe 1. So am I correct that you knew having sex with Jane Doe 1 was immoral, right?
Townsend: All right. So my question then is: Why did you do it?
Halcovage: Over a period of time, I thought that we had built a relationship and when the first encounter happened out front of her house, I was shocked and I felt that, you know, something happened and I was upset with myself. However, you know, I — I felt it was consensual.
Townsend: But did you — did you understand though in some sense that what you were doing was wrong?
Halcovage: I was upset with myself, definitely.
Halcovage told Townsend in his deposition that he believes a lid was kept on his relationship with Jane Doe 1 but believes she told Jane Doe 2 about them having sex.
From his testimony:
Townsend: Who — who was the first person you told that you were having sex with Jane Doe 1?
Halcovage: I didn’t tell her, but I think Jane Doe 2 was told by Jane Doe 1 that we had built a relationship. So I did not tell Jane Doe 2 directly. I never told anyone about it, you know, until everything hit and then I told my wife.
Townend: All right. So let me unpack that a little bit. So how do you know that Jane Doe 2 knew that you and Jane Doe 1 were having sex? Did she — did Jane Doe 2 say something to indicate that she knew?
Halcovage: Jane Doe 1 told me that she told her.
Halcovage then described “everything hit” as being served a spoliation letter, which prevented him from destroying any potential evidence that could be used in a case against him.
After receiving that letter is when Halcovage said he told his wife about the affair with Jane Doe 1.
The Commissioner says the only people he told directly about his relationship with Jane Doe 1 were County officials when they conducted their initial internal investigation of him in 2020. They were Twigg and Bender.
Halcovage says he didn’t tell either of his fellow Commissioners anything specifically about what was happening but realized that each – Gary Hess and Hetherington – knew something or had ideas something was happening.
Townsend: So the commissioners, did you speak with Commissioners Hess and Hetherington together when you were informing them that you had had sex with
Jane Doe 1?
Halcovage: I informed them about the case. I did not go into details with them as far as having sex. You know, finding out from the investigation that Commissioner Hess said that he was aware of something at least for a year, a year and a half, and according to the investigation, he said something to Jane Doe 1. And so he allegedly was aware of something over time. And, you know — so, again, I don’t know what it was that he was aware of, but he seemed to have known something.
Townsend: Did you and Mr. Hess ever speak directly about what he says he observed to make him think that you were having a —
Townsend: Having sex with Jane Doe 1?
Townsend: All right. Did you speak with Mr. Hetherington about having sex with Jane Doe 1?
Halcovage: No. He knew that there was an issue. He was new and my belief was that he just took information from a lot of different sources where there was a lot of rumors flying around, excuse me, and he basically had made up his mind of what
he thinks happened.
Townsend: All right. So — so around this time when everything hit, is the way I think you — you described it, so this is like May 2020, June 2020, around that time period, is there anyone else you spoke to about the fact that you had had sex with Jane Doe 1, other than who we’ve already covered and the people you spoke to during the
investigation, Ms. Twigg and Mr. Roth?
Halcovage: Priest, family. You know, people would just talk to me, just saying that they were praying for me, that — you know, and I just said all I ask for is my due process.
During his testimony, Halcovage provided more details on the relationship he says he had with Jane Doe 1 and admits to being in love with her:
Townsend: Do you think that you were ever in love with Jane Doe 1?
Halcovage: Yes, I think so.
Townsend: When — when were you in love with her?
Halcovage: I don’t know the exact time. We had built a relationship. She confided in me. I spoke to her about so many issues and things that she had requested me to try to help her out and guide her. We became pretty close friends. So I — I believe that, yes, I — we built — we built a loving relationship.
Townsend: Did you and Jane Doe 1 ever have any discussions about you leaving your wife so that you and her could be openly together?
Townsend: Is there a reason why not?
Halcovage: She knew that I loved my wife. She was looking in her life to find someone that could support her and love her. She had gone through a difficult situation in her marriage and she had left her husband and had been with several people after that.
Townsend: So you were clear that — with her that you were never going to leave your wife to be with her?
Halcovage: I believe that at that time, we — we just had built a relationship. And, you know, that — but she knew that — you know, she was friends with my family.
Townsend: How did she know that you were not going to leave your wife for her?
Halcovage: We had conversations about it. And she always said that I respect your family and I love your family and I loved her family and I wanted to see what was best for her.
More of Halcovage’s testimony from Townsend’s questions, as it related to the relationship he said he had with Jane Doe 1, focused on accusations against him, and his alleged behavior toward her and the other women suing him and the County government.
Many of the claims Halcovage denies. However, he does admit to being in a closet during another meeting, a tax hearing, at which Jane Doe 1 was present.
Townsend: All right. There was also this allegation that while she was working in a certain area in the courthouse, you would be in a closet and you would look at her. Did that ever happen?
Halcovage: One time.
Townsend: Only once. When — when was that?
Halcovage: When she was in for an assessment appeal and the — if you’re familiar, we have the Hoffmann Room that is behind the commissioners boardroom. The one, I guess it was a walkway at some time, but it is a closet. I had items that were stored in there that were from my office that were overflow and I went in to get something, she was sitting in eyeshot of where I could see her and I smiled at her and she smiled back.
Townsend: About how — how long did you remain in the closet on that occasion?
Halcovage: Probably three minutes, four minutes. I had to get something in one of the boxes out of that closet and I believe that I was on the phone, I was trying to find some stuff. I’m just trying to re — recall that, but it only happened that one time.
Townsend: How long were you looking at her while you were in the closet? Were you looking at her while you were talking on the phone?
Halcovage: I was not on the —
Townsend: Strike that. That was a bad question because I asked two questions. I’m sorry. Let me back up. So you said — I thought you said you were on the phone in the closet; is that right or no?
Townsend: Oh, okay.
Halcovage: I was looking for — I stored some file boxes in there. That was an area that we had — had used and was an overflow area. And I went in to get something and they were having the assessment appeals in there. I looked in, I saw her, I smiled at her, she smiled back at me, and I went back into my office to finish what I was doing.
Townsend: So it was just this one occasion where you looked at her from the closet. And you’re saying you looked at her, she smiled back at you. How long did that take, the looking at her and her smiling back at you?
Halcovage: Say 10 seconds.
Townsend: All right. So —
Halcovage: Fifteen seconds.
Townsend: All right. So — so were you and her making eye contact for 15 seconds?
Halcovage: She was — you know, there was hearing that was going on at that time and so she was there. And usually she sits — sits next to the manager of the tax assessment who would sit next to her. And we would, you know, just have conversation from that standpoint. Well, I shouldn’t say we should have conversation, I am listening to the conversation over there, which I’m hoping that that — you know, as I’m trying to be deposed, so — but the — this happened for maybe 10, 15 seconds.
During this line of questioning, there was some confusion among the attorneys regarding the other people in the same room. It wasn’t clear if Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4 were there, too.
Townsend: So on this occasion when you’re looking at Jane Doe 1 from the closet, Jane Doe 3 and Jane Doe 4 were in the room as well, not in the closet, but in the room Jane Doe 1?
Halcovage: I don’t know if it was Ginny Murray at that time or if it was Jane Doe 3.
Halcovage: I don’t know the timing of that, of when that specifically happened.
Townsend: Okay. So — but when it was happening, I think what you’re saying is you’re in the closet looking at Jane Doe 1 for 10 to 15 seconds and then you stopped looking at her and —
Halcovage: Went back to work.
In other testimony, Halcovage denies using a custodian at the Courthouse as a go-between to bring Jane Doe 1 “things.” Based on the testimony, it’s obvious that Jane Doe 1 said, at some point, that she believed Halcovage used this custodian to do this.
“I have no idea what she was talking about,” Halcovage testified.
The Commissioner also denied asking Jane Doe 1 to smell the cologne he was wearing. He denied going to the same gym as her. And Halcovage denied discussing the “frequency” with which he and Jane Doe 1 were having sex or how often they would see each other outside work hours.
In testimony later that day when he was being questioned by Catherine Smith, the attorney representing the Jane Doe plaintiffs, Halcovage also denied peeping into the bedroom window of Jane Doe 1.
Regarding allegations Jane Doe 1 made in the original lawsuit filed about Halcovage forcing her to perform oral sex on him, based on the transcript that’s been made public, the Commissioner denied that, too.
Smith: Did you ever hold Jane Doe 1 down during sex?
Smith: Ever hear any county employees refer to as — Jane Doe 1 as a political door whore?
Smith: County hoe?
Smith: Was there ever a time that Jane Doe 1 told you she didn’t want to have sex with you because she wanted to shower?
Halcovage: No. She did say one time that I stopped down and she said, you know, just wait, says I’m in the shower, I just want to get clothes on. She texted that to me.
Smith: Jane Doe 1 performed oral sex on you in your car out front of her house on at least one occasion, correct?
Smith: How many total times would you say she performed oral sex on you in your car outside of her home?
Halcovage: One time, first time, which is what — but other than that, I don’t know.
Smith: So at least one time, possibly more?
Halcovage: Possibly, but I don’t know.
Smith: Was there ever a time that Jane Doe 2 — I mean, sorry — Jane Doe 1 said she didn’t want to have sex with you because she had just had sex with her boyfriend?
Halcovage: She would tell me when her boyfriends were over but, no.
Smith: So Jane Doe 1 would tell you when her boyfriends were over?
Smith: And then would you go over after her boyfriends left?
Halcovage: If she called up and, you know, wanted to talk about stuff, sure, I would talk to her.
Smith: Did you ever have sex any of those times?
Halcovage Denies Harassing Jane Doe 2
Townsend also questioned Halcovage about accusations against him regarding Jane Doe 2. Again, he denied everything, including allegedly calling her a “head turner.”
He also discussed the idea that Jane Doe 2 and Jane Doe 1 were best friends. Halcovage said he was aware that Jane Doe 1 had told Jane Doe 2 that the two were having sex.
Townsend asked Halcovage flatly if he had sex with Jane Doe 2, which the Commissioner denied. He also asked if Halcovage if he had threated Jane Doe 1 not to tell anyone else.
Halcovage denied any allegation that his wife, at some point, called Jane Doe 2 a “whore,” which is mentioned in the original lawsuit.
Later, Halcovage is asked about showing up at Jane Doe 2’s residence, on her deck, unannounced. He denied that accusation, too.
Another accusation apparently made by Jane Doe 2 is that Halcovage met her at Walmart and another in which he allegedly followed her to St. Clair. He denied both. He also denied trying to interfere in Jane Doe 2’s divorce proceedings.
Halcovage denied surveilling or having Jane Doe 2 followed.
The Clock Tower
Halcovage denied having sex with anyone in the Courthouse clock tower. Here’s how that conversation transpired during his deposition:
Townsend: In the courthouse, there is a clock tower, correct?
Townsend: And I apologize, I haven’t been there before. But you can get up into the clock tower; is that right?
Townsend: All right. Have you ever had sex with anyone in the clock tower?
Townsend: Have you ever heard of anyone saying that you had sex in the clock tower with anyone?
Halcovage: Just paid in place type situation that was out there that — and one of the judges actually laughed about it, just saying that with the way it is up in the clock tower, it’s just, you know, not even conducive from that standpoint, but they thought it was total nonsense.
Townsend: What was the context of that discussion?
Halcovage: With Judge Domalakes.
Townsend: Who was around when Judge Domalakes was talking about sex in the clock tower?
Halcovage: I think it was they were coming back from lunch, it may have been our current president judge, president, he would usually go to lunch with Judge Dolbin, Judge Russell, who is now President Judge Jacqueline Russell, and — and himself.
Townsend: How — how did the topic of having sex in the clock tower come up?
Halcovage: I guess they had heard it from somebody and it just — he looked at me and was actually — he — he couldn’t believe that somebody had that had rumor out there.
Townsend: So he had heard a rumor you had had sex with somebody in the clock tower?
Halcovage: I assume, yes.
Townsend: Well, what was the context of the discussion?
Halcovage: That — that’s — that was the context of the discussion.
Townsend: Do you remember when that happened?
Halcovage: Had to be five, six years ago.
Townsend: All right. Do you remember any other conversations where this rumor about you having sex in the clock tower came up?
Halcovage: The only thing that I had heard was that — I believe that Maria Casey had asked a maint — maintenance person if they had heard it.
Townsend: And who was to maintenance person that Ms. Casey asked about that?
Halcovage: I don’t know if it was [NAME REDACTED] or it could have been [NAME REDACTED]. It could have been — I don’t know which one, but …
Townsend: Do you know what the maintenance person said to Ms. Casey?
Halcovage: I have no idea.
Townsend: How did you learn that Ms. Casey had asked this maintenance person about whether you had sex in the clock tower?
Halcovage: Again, rumor that flies around courthouses.
Outside of the physical sexual activity alleged in the lawsuit, other complaints against Halcovage stem from things he allegedly said that the plaintiffs considered inappropriate.
Several allegations made by Jane Doe 2 involve things Halcovage has allegedly said in the past. These things he’s allegedly said could be interpreted two ways, one innocently and another in a sexual way.
Halcovage denied making any sexual references with the things he’s said to her in the past, no matter how they might have been interpreted.
Here’s an excerpt of how that conversation transpired during the deposition:
Townsend: Right. I understand that. That’s what I’m trying — I’m trying to explore with you. So — so like one example was Jane Doe 2 said something about wanting to eat eggs benedict and you said something about the sauce. And she took that to be mean — to be like a — have a double meaning, one meaning — one being sexual. Do you remember that e-mail?
Halcovage: I remember the redacted e-mail that, you know, basically things were blackened out, which I was shocked that they were blackened out because the e-mail chain started with Jane Doe 2.
Townsend: Okay. So when you made that comment about the sauce, did you have — were you kind of joking and having a sexual overtone to — to the comment?
Halcovage: Absolutely not.
Townsend: All right. Do you remember saying or texting a comment, finally got a piece from Ginny?
Halcovage: Piece of gum.
Townsend: Right. So you weren’t — you weren’t making a —
Halcovage: Absolutely not.
Townsend: Wait. You got to let me finish, cause I know you know where —
Halcovage: Go ahead.
Townsend: — I’m going, but to make the record clear.
Townsend: You — you — that wasn’t a comment that you made that was intended to have also kind of a sexual meaning as a joke?
Townsend: All right.
Halcovage: Her daughter was a dental hygienist. She had told us that her daughter told her that certain pieces of gum you should not chew just because if you have work done in your teeth, that it doesn’t stick to the teeth. So Ginny would keep gum that was appropriate, that her daughter told her about, I guess, who was a hygienist, at her desk.
Townsend: Did she not give you that — like, did you ask for that gum and she would not give it to you?
Halcovage: It was one of those things that it was open to everyone in the office until Ginny said, hey, you’re always welcome to a piece of gum. You know, if you see it here, feel free to get it.
Townsend: How often would you get a piece of gum from her?
Halcovage: Seldom. But, you know, she had given me the open invitation that it was there.
Townsend: Why did you say finally got a piece from Ginny then? The finally —
Halcovage: Because I didn’t ask up front for the gum and it was only until I was offered the — you know, I wasn’t a member of that office, so — where she had told other people, feel free to, you know, get a piece of gum if you’d like. I wasn’t going to just assume I am going to go in and take gum that’s sitting on her desk. So I waited for her to say, listen, if it’s here, you know, you’re welcome to it.
Townsend: Are you familiar with people using the phrase a piece to refer to sex?
Halcovage: I guess that are people that use that.
Townsend: Have you ever done that?
Townsend: Who do you know who has?
Halcovage: Probably back in high school days. You know, I — I think it’s more of a young person saying than anything.
Townsend: Kind of juvenile, right?
Halcovage: Again, depends on who the person is. I don’t know — you know, depends on what walk of life people — someone is from.
Townsend: Okay. Have you ever made a comment about — so — let me strike that. So there’s also an allegation that you made a sexualized comment about people eating hotdogs or sausage. Do you remember seeing that?
Halcovage: I saw allegations of that.
Townsend: All right. Did you ever speak with Jane Doe 2 about comments you made about people eating hotdogs or sausage?
Halcovage: This one time, I guess they were at lunch and, you know, they got hotdogs and that was it. I did not make the comment.
Townsend: Have you ever been to a cookout at Jane Doe 2 parents’s house?
Halcovage: Yes, she invited me.
Townsend: Did you ever make a comment about — when you were at the cookout, anyone eating hotdogs or sausages?
Halcovage: No, because I think that was when her father was coming back from Delaware and had brought back hardshell crabs, so we were eating crabs.
Townsend: All right. So — okay. Did you — do you remember an incident where Jane Doe 2 wore shredded jeans to work?
Townsend: All right. Did you ever ask to put your finger in one of the holes in her jeans?
Townsend: You seem very adamant about that. Would you ever say anything like that?
Townsend: Why not?
Halcovage: It’s something I don’t do. I don’t say stuff like that.
Townsend: Would you consider it to be an inappropriate comment to a woman in the workplace to ask if you put a finger in the hole in their jeans?
Halcovage: I think that’s inappropriate.
In other testimony, Halcovage also denied making any sort of hand motion that might insinuate oral sex on a woman.
The Hillary Clinton “Joke”
These were not the only accusations regarding potentially inappropriate comments. There were two other incidents, specifically, noted in the original lawsuit: freeze pops and a Hillary Clinton joke.
During questioning by Smith, Halcovage denied making any off-color comments about freeze pops kept at the tax claim office at the Courthouse.
Smith: All right. And were the freeze pops you purchased intentionally larger than the ones that Jane Doe 4 had purchased?
Smith: At any point did you tell Jane Doe 4, I like the way your lips around that when she was eating a freeze pop?
Halcovage: Absolutely not.
Halcovage did admit to telling what he referred to as a joke about Hillary Clinton to Jane Doe 4. Here’s how that went down in the deposition:
Smith: Did you ever make a joke about your breath smelling like Hillary Clinton’s p***y to Jane Doe 4 or Jane Doe 3?
Halcovage: I did — I never used words like that.
Smith: Okay. Did you make a joke about Hillary Clinton’s vagina?
Halcovage: We — we had — during the Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump race when they were calling Donald Trump a misogynist, a womanizer, and everything else, they did not like Donald Trump. There was an off-color joke that was said to Jane Doe 4, yes.
Smith: By you?
Smith: What was the off-color joke?
Halcovage: It was talking about Hillary Clinton’s, you know, just private area.
Smith: Did you breathe on Jane Doe 4 during that joke?
Halcovage: I didn’t breathe on her, no.
Smith: Did you breathe dramatically or expressively breathe to indicate that your breath smelled like Hillary Clinton’s private part? Is that the gist of the joke?
Halcovage: That’s a — the end of the joke, yes.
Smith: Okay. Do you remember what the joke was?
Halcovage: I do.
Smith: Can you tell us it?
Halcovage: Just that there was a person that had come into a bar area and that they gone into the bar and the gentleman was sitting over at the other end of the bar. And he looked over, he thought he saw Hillary Clinton. And he — this woman that she was with was an attractive woman, and Hillary Clinton had come over to the man and said to her, you know, were you looking at my friend. And the gentleman was shaking his hand with his drink, he says, yes, he’s very shy. And he said that — well, you know — you know, she was looking at you too. And then the person said, do you like my friend. And the guy started to get more nervous, says yes. Says, well, you know, she really likes you. And the third part was Hillary looked over and said, how would you like to smell her you know what.
Smith: Did you say the words —
Halcovage: You know what.
Smith: — you know what?
Halcovage: Yes, I did. Okay.
Halcovage: And I’m embarrassed by the joke. I’m sorry. But — and the gentleman was very nervous, he said yes, and the person went huh.
Smith: The person being Hillary Clinton, correct?
Halcovage: The person who looked like Hillary Clinton, yes.
Smith: Okay. So let me — so let me make sure I have this inappropriate joke that was made correct. A woman and another woman walk into a bar, correct?
Halcovage: Were sitting at a bar, yes.
Smith: Okay. And the man who is sitting at the bar, has a conversation with the one woman that looks like Hillary Clinton, correct?
Halcovage: He was across the bar.
Smith: But they have a conversation?
Halcovage: Because the one woman came over to him, yes.
Smith: Okay. The one — okay. That woman speaking with the man in the joke, breathes, insinuating that she had just performed oral or had performed oral sex on the other woman; is that what I’m understanding the joke to be?
Halcovage: That’s your assumption, that’s the — yes.
Smith: Am I understanding what the gist of the joke is supposed to be?
Smith: Okay. So you made a joke not only about oral sex, but also about lesbians, correct?
Halcovage: Don’t know.
Smith: Well, a woman performing oral sex on another would, would that make them lesbians?
Halcovage: You would assume.
Smith: Okay. Was anyone else present when you told Jane Doe 4 this — this joke?
Halcovage: It was — don’t know who was in the office.
Smith: In the tax claim bureau office?
Smith: During work hours?
Halcovage: I assume.
Smith: Why did you feel it was appropriate to make that joke to a subordinate employee as the county commissioner?
Halcovage: They were friends of mine. They would joke around all the time with me. We had a friendship and there was bantering constantly back and forth, talking about how much they hated Donald Trump. And it was just at that time that that joke had come up.
Smith: Okay. Looking back at it now and knowing what you know about the sexual harassment policy at the county, do you believe that that’s a violation of the sexual harassment policy?
Halcovage: You shouldn’t tell aprop — inappropriate jokes.
Smith: Do you believe that it is a violation of the county’s sexual harassment policy?
Halcovage: I believe that if a person tells a person and informs them that they’re uncomfortable with it and if the pattern continues of that happening, that’s a violation. But at the time, there was, oh, George, type situation and that was it.
Halcovage also denied making any ’69’ references, another allegation from the original lawsuit.
As previously noted, there is a first day of deposition testimony that hasn’t yet been made part of the public record in this case. There’s also a third day that, too, wasn’t made public.
There are many more pages of testimony that has been made public by other Schuylkill County officials as part of this lawsuit. So many stories have not been told in just this one article.
In the coming days, we’ll extract more stories from these depositions.
In the meantime, check out more coverage of the Jane Doe v. Schuylkill County lawsuit from our Archives:
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