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Voltz files appeal

Andy Ouriel • Jul 21, 2014 at 12:00 PM


A former Erie County employee — fired, but never charged, for allegedly raping a woman — exhausted his last possible option to reclaim a government job and $75,000 he wants in lost wages.

Aaron Voltz, the former executive director at Erie County Job and Family Services, filed an appeal, fighting a federal judge’s June decision to dismiss his wrongful termination case.

The Register obtained the appeal through a public records request. The response included a series of emails from county officials discussing the case.

If Voltz didn’t appeal, then this controversial case, which began three years ago, would've ended. 

But, by Voltz triggering his final legal right in this matter, the dispute now extends in length anywhere from an additional nine months to one year.

When asked to comment on Sunday, Voltz on his cellphone told the Register, “You’re more than welcome to call my attorney. I would want you to talk to them.”

The lawsuit

In July 2011, county commissioners fired Voltz based upon accusations he raped a then-26-year-old Huron woman. All three county commissioners had appointed him to job and family services' top position, overseeing departments such as foster care and child support, about a month beforehand.

Upon his appointment, Voltz agreed to a 180-day no-tolerance period. Even so much as being accused of rape permitted commissioners to fire Voltz, they contend.

Voltz disagrees.

The lawsuit and appeal represents Voltz’s response to county commissioners terminating him.

Voltz, a Hispanic man, claimed racial and gender discrimination in his court case. For instance, in his lawsuit, Voltz complained about how he couldn’t succeed at his job because “there was too much estrogen” in the department. 

He wants a high-ranking administrative position within job and family services, his employer from 1996 to 2011, along with $75,000 in lost compensation.

In the ruling Voltz is now appealing, Toledo-based U.S. District Judge Jack Zouhary slammed Voltz’s contentions because officials showed no biases when hiring and consistently promoting him during his 15-year county career.

“After (Voltz’s) arrest, the same board, on the advice of the same individuals who recommended hiring him, elected to terminate him,” according to Zouhary’s recent ruling. “These acts, by the same individuals, demonstrate that discriminatory (belief) did not motivate the termination. It was the plaintiff’s own misconduct outside of work that placed him and his employer in an unfavorable light in the public eye and resulted in his termination.”

Zouhary continued: “Finally, the unique facts of a department head being arrested and incarcerated for rape in a county office assigned to care for children and families can be sufficient to warrant termination. The severity of the charges are undisputed.”

Aaron Voltz timeline

• 1996: Voltz starts tenure at Erie County Job and Family Services.

• June 2011: Erie County commissioners select Voltz as the department’s new executive director, the highest-ranking position there.

• July 9, 2011: Huron police receive a call from a 26-year-old woman who accuses Voltz of forcibly raping her at her Cleveland Road apartment. Three officers show up at the apartment with a rape kit and confiscate a stainless steel knife, bed sheet, comforter and some clothes. Police issue a warrant for Voltz’s arrest.

• July 10, 2011: Perkins police arrest Voltz. He is later taken to the Erie County jail.

• July 11, 2011: Erie County commissioners unanimously agree to fire Voltz for conduct detrimental to his department, stemming from the rape charge. Upon being promoted, Voltz had agreed to a 180-day probation period, allowing commissioners to fire him if he was suspected of or committed any detrimental action. Voltz posted bond later this week.

• November 2011: Erie County Common Pleas Court Judge Tygh Tone dismisses rape charges against Voltz, citing the alleged victim’s refusal to testify.

• November 2012: Erie County commissioners receive a copy of certified letter the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, sent by Voltz and a Cleveland law firm. The county’s insurance policy helps cover compensator damages as well as back pay if a court ruling ultimately sides with Voltz on the wrongful termination claim.

• December 2012: Voltz sends Erie County commissioners a letter demanding he be reinstated as the Erie County Job and Family Services’ assistant director, the position he had before he was promoted to the executive director’s position in June 2011.

• January 2013: Voltz files a lawsuit against Erie County, seeking at least $75,000 in compensation because he was fired.

• June 2014: Federal judge dismisses Voltz's lawsuit.

• Mid-July 2014: Voltz files appeal. 

Source: Register research


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