Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Investigation Finds that Schuylkill County Commissioner Violated 3 County Policies

The Schuylkill County Solicitors office has released the findings of an investigation into "serious" allegations against Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage.

Last Friday, in a statement released by Schuylkill County First Assistant County Solicitor and Risk Manager Glenn T. Roth Jr. Esq., "We have received serious allegations against Commissioner Halcovage. We have just completed our investigation. Many of the allegations appear credible. We expect to make a public statement next week."

On Tuesday afternoon, the Solicitors issued a brief press release concerning the allegations.

In the press release, dated June 3rd, 2020, it stated that on the morning of Friday, May 22nd, 2020, the Schuylkill County Human Resources Director, Deborah Twigg, received serious allegations against Commissioner Halcovage including claims of sexual harassment concerning several female County Employees.  

The County was notified that one employee in particular retained counsel and the County was directed that all questions should be directed to her attorney.

After receiving the allegations, County Administrator Gary Bender was notified and the Human Resources Office was immediately directed to conduct an internal investigation into the allegations in accordance with the County’s Policies and Procedures. 

Interviews into the allegations were reportedly conducted that day.

The County then informed Commissioner Halcovage that the allegations were made against him. 
Commissioners Hess and Hetherington were also notified of the allegations. 

After the initial interviews took place, the Administrator directed Human Resources and the County’s First Assistant County Solicitor/ Risk Manager, Glenn Roth, Esquire to conduct the remainder of the interviews. 

The press release also stated that "The County took certain steps to accommodate the Employees to ensure that they felt comfortable in the workplace including directing Commissioner Halcovage to not have contact with the Employees. "

Commissioner Halcovage informed the Human Resources Office that he had retained an attorney and an interview took place with Commissioner Halcovage and his attorney on June 10, 2020. 

On June 16, 2020, HR Director Twigg and Solicitor Roth interviewed the County employee making the most serious allegations along with her attorney. 

A follow-up interview with Commissioner Halcovage and his counsel occurred on June 23, 2020. 

During the interviews of Commissioner Halcovage, he was questioned regarding specific allegations made against him by the Employees. 

"While many of the allegations made by the Employees were denied by Commissioner Halcovage, it is apparent, based on the County’s internal investigation, that Mr. Halcovage has violated the Sexual Harassment Policy #2005-18 (Revised September 2013), the Conduct and Disciplinary Action Policy #2005-19; and the Physical and Verbal Abuse Policy #2007-02 (Revised March, 2007).

It was noted that no complaints were made against Commissioner Halcovage by any of the Employees prior to May 22, 2020. 

According to the press release, as with any other allegation  involving County personnel, the County conducted its internal investigation through the Human Resources Office.  The investigation was said to have been conducted as expeditiously as possible but took some time given the number of interviews that needed to be conducted and that there were multiple attorneys involved. 

Also according to the press release, neither County Administration nor other county commissioners may discipline a fellow county commissioner or remove him from office absent criminal conviction or impeachment. Given that this incident does involve personnel, involves multiple attorneys, and may proceed to litigation, the County may not provide specific details of the allegations made by the Employees or the specific findings of the internal investigation.

It also noted that if this investigation involved a County department head, the department head would be suspended immediately pending investigation followed by a recommendation of employment termination.

Commissioner Halcovage was not available for comment on the matter.

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