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York County judge enters diversionary program after accusations of misconduct

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch
York County Magisterial District Judge John H. Fishel.

York County District Judge John H. Fishel entered into the judicial diversion program Monday following accusations of aiming sexual comments and other inappropriate actions toward court staff.

Fishel, 54, who has presided over district court in Red Lion since 2009, will be required to meet monthly with a mentor, Cumberland County District Judge Elizabeth Beckley, until February, according to an order from the state Court of Judicial Discipline.

Beckley will serve as both a counselor and mentor to "help resolve the issues presented by the complaint in this case and to educate Judge Fishel," a copy of the order reads.

In June, charges were filed by the state Judicial Conduct Board that alleged Fishel "permitted his court staff to participate in inappropriate communication."

Among other instances cited in the charges, sometime after October 2018, Fishel told his staff that he had rubbed his penis on the brim of a coffee mug as a joke.

More:York County judge accused of lewd comments, inappropriate behavior

In other instances, Fishel discussed topics such as anal sex and circumcision with court staff and others. 

Robert Graci, Fishel’s attorney, said he has "no doubt" his client will successfully complete the Judicial Diversion Program.

"(Fishel) wants to continue in his judicial career and looks forward to completing the program and the dismissal of the charges against him in the next few months," Graci said via email.

In June, Fishel said in a statement that he "couldn't be more embarrassed and apologetic for the inappropriate behavior between the staff and myself."

"I'll continue to do what is needed of me to ensure everyone the circumstances in the complaint have been resolved," he wrote. "Throughout the years, I have encountered people who made mistakes. I can only hope and pray the people in our community trust and have faith that I have corrected mine."

The June charges come after the York County District Court Administrator's Office in October conducted an investigation in response to a Non-Discrimination and Equal Employment Opportunity Complaint.

Judge Fishel self-reported "most, if not all" of the allegations included in the complaint one month after being notified of the investigation, the charges state.

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.