Halcovage’s attorney speaks out
The attorney for Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage Jr. spoke Monday about the legal claims against him.
Attorney Gerard Geiger confirmed he is representing Halcovage in his role as county commissioner against the harassment claims. Geiger is the lead attorney with the firm Newman Williams. He did not say when he was obtained to represent Halcovage.
First Assistant County Solicitor Glenn Roth said Monday Geiger was retained by PA Counties Risk Pool, which is the county’s insurance company. PCoRP was formed by the County Commissioners Association of Pennsylvania, according to the website pacounties.org.
A June 30 letter from Roth detailing the investigation and allegations against Halcovage said he obtained an attorney before a June 10 interview on the allegations.
Geiger released a statement about the circumstances Halcovage is dealing with.
“The citizens of Schuylkill County certainly have an important interest in the actions and character of their elected representatives. But ‘convicting’ a county official in the court of public opinion based on rumor and innuendo does a disservice not just to Commissioner Halcovage but to the people who elected him.”
He said Halcovage only asks for due process.
“The exaggerated stories published in local blogs and the press are unfair. While he may disagree with the claims made against him, he cannot fully respond. His hands are tied.
“As a county commissioner, Mr. Halcovage has a responsibility to protect the accusers’ confidentially even while completely disagreeing with their claims. Imagine how frustrating it is to hear claims you know to be false when you cannot defend yourself. The accusers are not bound by this high standard but these are the only versions of events people hear. Of course people believe the worst, but only because they have heard only one side. Commissioner Halcovage looks forward to responding to these claims. We ask only for your patience in giving him that chance, and, in the proper forum,” Geiger wrote.
The county had received “serious allegations” against Halcovage regarding alleged harassment of female county employees and an internal investigation conducted by human resources and the county’s solicitor’s office determined Halcovage violated three county policies including sexual harassment, conduct and discipline and physical and verbal abuse.
“If this investigation involved a county department head, the department head would be suspended immediately pending investigation followed by a recommendation of employment termination,” a letter from the solicitor’s office reads.
Furthermore, neither county administration or other county commissioners can discipline another commissioner or remove him from office absent criminal conviction or impeachment.
Halcovage has denied any allegations of sexual harassment or discrimination.
District Attorney Michael O’Pake referred the matter to the state attorney general’s office last month due to a conflict of interest because he is a county official. He reviewed the report prior to the referral.
O’Pake said his office did not do any independent investigation of the allegations.
Mark Shade, press secretary for Attorney General Josh Shapiro, said recently he had no additional information to provide.