Schuylkill County sheriff candidate now weighing options on withdraw

·3 min read

Jun. 10—The Republican nominee for Schuylkill County sheriff, accused on a Facebook page of predatory behavior involving young girls, now says he may not drop out of the election.

Douglas Litwhiler, who denies the allegations and has not been charged with any crime, had said he would remove his name from the race to spare his family further harassment, but was waiting until after the election results were certified, which occurred Tuesday.

On Wednesday, however, Litwhiler said he is instead keeping his "options open."

The deadline to withdraw is Aug. 9

"The deadline is two months away. That's all I have to say on that," he said.

Meanwhile, Litwhiler's lawyer said Wednesday he was "putting the final touches" on a defamation and libel lawsuit he plans to file Thursday or Friday in county court against Anthony Kodack, who created the Facebook page May 19, the day after the primary.

"The complaint will include five defendants, possibly six," said Joseph F. Orso III, from the Williamsport law firm of Rudinski, Orso & Lynch P.C.

A letter warning of the suit was hand delivered to Kodack on Monday, telling him he had until Wednesday to remove the page and post a retraction or face legal action.

Kodack, who said the women who have come forward "deserve to be heard," said again Wednesday he does not intend to remove the page. Also, he secured his own legal representation, Jessalyn Cool, with the RFE Law Firm LLC, Swarthmore. He said Cool reached out to him through the Facebook page and offered to represent him for free.

Kodack said he will consult with Cool and wait until he reads the lawsuit before any possible further comment.

He has repeatedly said he acted on his own in creating the page, despite Orso's contention that incumbent Democrat Sheriff Joseph G. Groody, who also won in the primary, was involved, an accusation the sheriff has repeatedly denied.

"I have no recollection of ever meeting with him," Kodack said Wednesday about Groody. "I didn't realize I live so close to him. Sheriff Groody has no connection, and no other public official or organization has any. It was me on my own."

Both men live in Ashland.

Schuylkill County Election Bureau Director Albert L. Gricoski said the Aug. 9 deadline is for any winner from the primary to have his or her name removed from the Nov. 2 general election ballot. In such cases, the political party involved has until Aug. 19 to file a nomination substitute certificate, Gricoski said.

"The party would have to file the necessary papers, like a financial statement and things like that," he said. "If no substitute is filed, then that position will be open on the ballot."

Schuylkill County Republican Committee Chairman Howard Merrick said he had not been contacted by Litwhlier about leaving the race.

Accusations against Litwhiler include that he made inappropriate comments to women while in a police uniform.

The borough council in Ringtown, where he was employed part time, fired him in a unanimous vote June 1, but said the firing was based on performance.

Litwhiler said Wednesday he continues to work for other police departments, but offered no details.

"I'm not going to divulge where," he said. "It's nobody's business where I work. I'm not discussing my employment."

(Updated to correct the reason for Litwhiler's firing by Ringtown Borough Council.)

Contact the writer: jusalis@republicanherald.com; 570-628-6023