News

Statute of limitations disputed at prison guard's hearing

Judge did not make immediate ruling

SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) - There was a surprise development during a hearing for a former Lackawanna County corrections officer Tuesday.

George McHale of Scranton faced his accuser in a courtroom for the first time.

Instead of immediately making a ruling on whether the charges against him will go to trial, a magistrate judge asked attorneys from both sides to provide further clarification on the law for him.

Whether the charges against George McHale go forward apparently boil down to a question about the statute of limitations.

Under normal circumstances, charges like the ones filed against McHale would need to be filed within two years.

Because McHale, as a corrections officer was considered a public employee, the law gives prosecutors an extension of eight years.

The main question up for debate between lawyers appears to be if the eight years is the total time frame they have or can all that time be added together to give investigators ten years total to bring charges.

George McHale left the courthouse in Scranton with his fate still hanging in the balance.

"He's a family man. He's married, a life-long Scranton resident, never in any trouble in his life and there's one person whose credibility if very questionable making an allegation of one incident," defense attorney Joe Toczydlowski said.

In court, that one woman took the stand to testify against the 50-year-old.

She claims to have had inappropriate contact with McHale in December 2009 while being held in the Lackawanna County prison's restricted housing unit.

She says she felt forced, saying, "if I didn't do what he asked me to do I would receive possibly more time in the RHU (restricted housing unit)," the female accuser told the judge.

In this case, the date of the incident will play a very important role.

McHale's attorney and the Pennsylvania Attorney General's Office differ on how long prosecutors had to file charges.

McHale was arrested on February 14, 2018 about two months after his attorney believes the statute of limitations would have run out.

"I think the statue is clear on its face that it's a maximum of eight years from the alleged conduct," Toczydlowski said.

The Pennsylania Attorney General's Office believes it had a total of ten years to file charges.

Josh Shapiro himself addressed that issue at a news conference in Dunmore last month.

On February 15, during a news conference, Shapiro was asked the question: "based off the law, is there any concerns that you have about statue of limitations?"

Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro responded, "No. Otherwise we wouldn't have charged."

The magistrate who heard Tuesday's testimony gave lawyers from both sides one week to file a legal brief that includes case law to explain their respective position.

He said he would then make a ruling about whether the criminal charges against George McHale will move forward to county court.

George McHale is the fourth former corrections officer to face a judge.

A total of seven men were charged in the wide-ranging sex scandal.

 


Don't Miss

  • Text Alerts
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Beautiful
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Spa Week
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
  • Community Appearance
    Copyright 2018 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Latest News

Video Center