Commissioner lawsuit set for Sept. 28 conference
The federal court case involving Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage Jr. is scheduled for a Sept. 28 case management conference.
Mediation has been unsuccessful.
United States District Judge Malachy Mannion set the time for 10 a.m. in an order last month. It will be in Mannion’s chambers at the William J. Nealon Federal Building and United States Courthouse, Scranton. It can be held by phone but may be held in person if all counsel agree.
The order said the primary reason for the conference is to “establish case management deadlines to enable this action to go forward as efficiently as possible. Participation in this conference by counsel or by pro se litigants is mandatory.”
Once deadlines have been established, additional time will be “sparingly granted and only for good cause shown, upon application made before the expiration of the relevant deadline,” documents state.
Halcovage, who has been a commissioner since 2012, has been sued in federal court by four women, all Schuylkill County employees, who have accused him of sexual harassment. Their names are not in the lawsuit, but they are identified as Jane Doe 1, Jane Doe 2, Jane Doe 3, and Jane Doe 4.
Other defendants are also named in the suit.
Numerous county and state leaders have called for Halcovage to resign. The county’s solicitor office and human resources investigated and determined that Halcovage violated three county policies, sexual harassment, conduct and discipline, and physical and verbal abuse. The investigation determined that if Halcovage was an employee he would be suspended and recommended he be terminated.
The House Judiciary Committee unanimously passed a resolution in June calling for an investigation into Halcovage. The vote was 25-0.
The resolution calls for the start of an investigation as to “whether an impeachment or removal from office is required due to alleged misbehavior in office and violation of public trust.”
State Reps. Jerry Knowles, R-Schuylkill/Berks/Carbon; Joe Kerwin, R-Dauphin-Schuylkill; and Tim Twardzik, R-Schuylkill, introduced House Resolution 99 in May. The committee will report the findings of the investigation to the House of Representatives. Among other duties, the committee is authorized and empowered to administer oaths and witnesses, take testimony, request individuals and papers and other materials.
The committee designated the Subcommittee on Courts to among other duties make recommendations to the Judiciary Committee and take testimony, and prepare legal documents.
Cost for the investigation will be paid by the Chief Clerk upon written request approved by the Speaker of the House of Representatives Bryan Cutler, R-Lancaster, House Majority Leader Kerry Benninghoff, or the Minority Leader of the House of Representatives Joanna McClinton, D-Philadelphia/Delaware.
A call to Rep. Rob Kauffman, chair of the Judiciary Committee, was not returned.