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Commissioners meet with Christoffel

No decision made on county health officer's employment

No decision made on county health officer's employment

July 19, 2006|by TARA REILLY

HAGERSTOWN

The Washington County Commissioners met with Health Officer William Christoffel and his attorney in closed session for more than an hour Tuesday but made no decision on his employment status.

A state investigation report completed last month alleged Christoffel on numerous occasions engaged in sexually harassing behavior while on the job.

Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook said the commissioners heard Christoffel's side of the story in closed session.

"The commissioners took no action," Snook said. "We're going to think about it for a little bit."

Snook said the commissioners hope to make a decision in one to two weeks.

Although he is a state employee, the commissioners have the authority to terminate Christoffel's employment with concurrence from the state.

Snook said he planned to call S. Anthony McCann, secretary of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, today to talk about the matter.

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Christoffel, whose salary is $96,355, has been on administrative leave since June 9.

After the closed session, Christoffel and his attorney, Arthur Schneider, left the building through either a side door or a back door and could not be reached for comment.

Snook said Christoffel and Schneider said they did not intend to comment publicly.

The investigation report by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene was based on evidence from at least 13 witnesses.

The allegations include that Christoffel used condoms as a joke and made sexually explicit comments.

A statement released last month by Christoffel and Schneider said Christoffel has never "purposely or knowingly" discriminated against anyone at the Health Department or in public.

"He has dedicated himself to educating the public by using techniques which include humor and banter," according to the statement. "He has never nor would he consider making any derogatory or offensive comments to any of his staff or the public at large."

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