HARRISBURG— The Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape (PCAR) applauds the unanimous support of the Pennsylvania House last week to adopt House Resolution 99 under the leadership of Representatives Joe Kerwin, Jerry Knowles and Tim Twardzik as the sponsors. HR 99 authorizes the House Judiciary Committee to conduct an investigation into Schuylkill County Commissioner George Halcovage for sexual harassment.
The resolution calls attention to-- and accountability for--County Commissioner George Halcovage following a May 2020 investigation by the Schuylkill County solicitor and human resources which found that Halcovage violated three county policies related to sexual misconduct; the Sexual Harassment Policy; the Conduct and Disciplinary Action policy as well as the Physical and Verbal Abuse Policy. Their investigation determined that if Halcovage was an employee rather than an elected official he would be suspended and terminated. Additionally, a group of four female county employees filed a lawsuit reporting years of discrimination, sexual harassment, coercion, sexual assault, threats and intimidation perpetrated by Halcovage.
PCAR calls for the resignation of Halcovage and supports the House Judiciary Committee’s investigation if he continues his refusal.
PCAR and advocates for survivors of sexual harassment support these survivors. We thank the House for advancing a resolution that will begin a formal process to hold Halcovage accountable. The resolution was necessary after several members of the advocacy community and residents of Schuylkill County called for his resignation which has been refused to date.
This resolution reinforces the need for the public and private actions of leaders at every level to be taken into account. Leaders of all political parties and backgrounds have a critically important responsibility to be a part of the solution to end sexual violence.
If you feel unsafe, tell your supervisor or someone else listed in your company’s sexual harassment policy. Be specific about what happened, steps you have taken to address it, and how you want your employer to fix the problem. You can also contact local law enforcement or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for more information about your legal rights and options.
The community has a responsibility to believe survivors and also be clear sexually violent behavior from abusers is not acceptable in any form. That commitment helps survivors feel safer to come forward rather than stay silent for fear – the Pennsylvania House and the Schuylkill County state representatives honored their role in this community by doing just that with their vote.
Everyone plays a role in preventing sexual violence and supporting victims and survivors of sexual assault. If a survivor isn’t believed or made to feel shame for telling their story this may cause them to become silent which ultimately protects the abuser who may continue to harm others.
We extend our support to all survivors and their loved ones. Help is available 24/7 by calling 1-888-772-7227 or visiting our website at www.pcar.org. For those in Schuylkill County please contact the Sexual Assault Resource & Counseling Center of Schuylkill County (SARCC) at http://sarcclebanon.org.