Neighbor: Man put rat heads on her property
Judge hands fine, probation, community service to 63-year-old
HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Logan Township man has been convicted of harassment in Blair County Court based on a neighbor’s claim that he put dead rats and rat heads on her property.
Evidence against James Arnold George, 1213 29th Ave., included a video where George is seen tossing something toward his neighbor’s house.
“Guess what? It just happened to be a rat head,” Blair County District Attorney Richard Consiglio said.
Judge Elizabeth A. Doyle, who conducted the trial-by-judge on Tuesday on the single criminal charge, sentenced George to 90 days’ supervision by the county parole and probation office. She also ordered him to complete 50 hours of community service, pay a $50 fine and to have no contact with the neighbor.
Assistant Public Defender Anthony Kattouf tried to convince Doyle that the property’s wooded location and the placement of garbage would be factors in attracting rats. But the owner said she had lived there since 1984 and had no previous rat issues.
On the witness stand, the woman said that she began finding rats and rat heads after she testified in a civil court proceeding in January 2017 where George and a neighbor were at odds over a property easement.
She said she initially photographed the dead rats and rat heads she was finding on her property, then had a video camera installed.
In court during the trial, Consiglio played video showing George moving away from the corner of a house before making a tossing motion toward the woman’s property.
“He should get a taste of jail for what he’s done to this lady,” Consiglio advised Doyle prior to sentencing.
Doyle declined and said that because the 63-year-old George had no prior convictions, jail would not be an appropriate.
After the trial, the victim offered no protest to the sentence imposed.
“I just want it stopped,” she said.
While Logan Township police initially charged George with witness retaliation in addition to harassment, Doyle dismissed that charge in October. She said her review of the law indicated that such a charge is applicable only to witnesses who testified in criminal proceedings.
“It is starkly obvious that the legislature intended to protect a witness in criminal matters with the retaliation statute,” she stated in that ruling. “At some time, they may choose to protect witnesses in civil matters in the same way. But, as of this writing, they have not.”
Mirror Staff Writer Kay Stephens is at 946-7456.