Westmoreland official's newspaper comment lead to lawsuit
By Renatta Signorini
Published: Friday, Sept. 6, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A defamation lawsuit was filed on Thursday against Westmoreland County Register of Wills Michael Ginsburg for comments he made about a department employee to a Tribune-Review reporter, according to the suit.
The statements were published in an Aug. 27 article in response to a sexual harassment complaint that deputy clerk Katie Pecarchik of Jeannette filed on Aug. 26 against Ginsburg, his chief deputy and the county.
“The statements made by (Ginsburg) were made with malice and with the specific intent to harm (Pecarchik) and her reputation,” according to the suit filed in Westmoreland County court.
Her attorney, David Millstein, said on Thursday that Pecarchik didn't bring either of the actions “looking for money.”
“She wants to stand up for herself and not be victimized,” Millstein said.
Pecarchik is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages in the suit. Ginsburg declined to comment Thursday.
In the Tribune-Review article, Ginsburg referred to an alleged discipline problem with Pecarchik.
Millstein said he wrote Ginsburg a letter after the article's publication asking him to publicly retract the statements or apologize. When Ginsburg didn't, the lawsuit was filed, Millstein said.
Ginsburg referred questions about the litigation to attorney Scott Avolio, who said no determination has been made if Ginsburg is being represented by his office.
Pecarchik has been a deputy clerk in the office since 2003. She claims in the sexual harassment complaint that Ginsburg and deputy register Charles Humberger inappropriately touched her and made offensive sexual remarks and derogatory statements about Catholics, homosexuals and African Americans. The allegations were reported to the county in July.
Ginsburg and Humberger have denied the allegations.
Pecarchik is on sick leave as a result of the harassment, her attorney said. The allegations were filed with the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission and the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and are a precursor to a state or federal lawsuit, either of which can be filed following an investigation of the allegations by the agencies.
Ginsburg, a first-term Republican from Penn Township, is responsible for the hiring and firing of staff in his office.
Twelve female staffers work in the register's office.
Renatta Signorini is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-837-5374 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- North Versailles, Murrysville families still waiting for report on 2011 chopper crash that killed couple
- Blaze damages Derry Twp. garage, apartment
- Police say Latrobe woman bought gun for boyfriend, who shot neighbor
- ‘We Are FR’ fund going strong
- Scottdale to reconsider use of complaint forms
- Hempfield Area superintendent, business manager quit
- Jailed Hribal ‘fine,’ but family ‘terrible’ as answers in stabbing sought
- Graziani hired away from Latrobe as Penn Township’s manager
- St. Vincent student killed in ‘unfortunate accident’ in Erie
- Murrysville woman sues Giant Eagle over burns
- Retired postal worker picks $1M winner