August 1, 2014

Elyria
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test

Matus defends himself at hearing

ELYRIA — Suspended Lorain County General Health District Medical Director Paul Matus defended himself against a series of misconduct allegations during a closed-door hearing Friday.

Matus, who has been on paid leave since January, was the subject of a sexual harassment investigation last year, but it was determined that his behavior didn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment.

But county health officials have taken issue with some of the actions Matus allegedly took while the sexual harassment investigation was under way, including making false allegations of misconduct against health officials and threatening to go public with those allegations if he was disciplined.

For instance, Matus is accused of stating during three separate conversations in December and January that former Health Commissioner Ken Pearce spurred the harassment investigation as an act of revenge.

Matus’ attorney, David Cuppage, has written that the Health Board appears to be targeting Matus because of suspicions that Matus was responsible for the bad publicity generated by a plan that would have brought the retired Pearce back to his old job.

The board has since backed off the plan to bring Pearce back and hired Dave Covell as the new health commissioner.

Cuppage also has written that Matus is being punished for his attempts to defend his name against the sexual harassment allegations, which he has said his client was never told about.

According to paperwork detailing the allegations against Matus, the former county coroner also stands accused of making personal attacks on female staff members who he allegedly said had conspired with Pearce against him. He also allegedly refused to take sensitivity training and is accused of lying about what he knew about the sexual harassment allegations.

Both Assistant County Prosecutor Gerald Innes and Cuppage said they would have no comment after the hearing, which stretched well past the normal close of business Friday.

Innes, Covell, Pearce and Health District board member Bill Spreng all testified during the hearing.

There is no firm date for the independent hearing officer to announce the results of his findings.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com.