Getting the Truth In St. Clairsville

Some St. Clairsville residents may be hoping a lawsuit filed by Police Chief Jeff Henry goes to trial soon. With any luck, it may set to rest a controversy that has pitted some city council members against others and against Mayor Terry Pugh.

Last month, Henry filed a lawsuit against Councilmen Perry Basile and Tim Porter, along with an unnamed council member, three police officers and three St. Clairsville residents. The city itself and a consultant who prepared an investigative report on Henry’s performance as chief also are named as defendants.

Henry’s lawsuit contends a draft copy of the consultant’s report was leaked prematurely to the public. Pugh says Porter and Basile received copies of the draft.

A final report, differing in some respects from the draft, was provided to city officials by the consultant. Though it recommended additional training for Henry, it cleared him of wrongdoing related to how he managed officers in the police department.

Mayor Pugh has accused Basile and Porter of releasing the draft document. The issue came up again during a council meeting Monday, with Porter suggesting the mayor should apologize. Both Basile and Porter, who is council president, have denied adamantly that they released the draft.

“I meant every word I said,” Pugh replied, telling the two councilmen, “You were given the draft and no one else was.”

But after the meeting, Pugh said a copy of the draft may have been given to the Fraternal Order of Police union.

That could change everything, of course. It certainly makes the list of people who could have leaked the draft report significantly longer.

Clearly, there is a substantial amount of ill will among some St. Clairsville officials. Municipal government cannot function at its best in such an environment. So, the sooner the truth comes out, the better. If that has to happen during a trial over Henry’s lawsuit, so be it.

We suspect some St. Clairsville residents grew tired of hearing accusations weeks ago and simply want to learn what really happened. City officials who are at each other’s throats verbally are not a recipe for dealing with important issues in the community.


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