Humane society director is accused of sexual assault and harassment

Milford. At a hearing Wednesday morning at the Pike County Courthouse, employee Selena McGinnis said Barry Heim grabbed and harassed her at the animal shelter.

| 28 Jun 2021 | 12:28

An employee at the Pike County Humane Society is accusing its director, Barry Heim, of sexual assault and harassment.

Eleven humane society employees, volunteers, and board members, including Heim’s wife, Janet Heim, came out Wednesday morning to support Selina McGinnis at a civil court hearing held before Judge Kelly Gaughan at the Pike County Courthouse in Milford.

McGinnis was represented by attorney Jeffrey L. Earline, who provides legal representation for cases handled by the Victims’ Intervention Program of Wayne and Pike Counties. McGinnis has filed a petition for the protection of victims of sexual violence to bar Heim from harassing or intimidating her.

Heim was represented by Matthew Galasso, a Milford lawyer with a practice in criminal defense and family law.

The hearing was postponed until Wednesday, July 14, at 9 a.m. The order of protection will continue until then.

Heim turned in his seat in the courtroom and told the Courier that he’s done nothing wrong.

“It’s nonsense,” he said. “I’m not capable of it. It’s a power play on her part. She wants control. I can’t say any more.”

Galasso took exception to the term sexual assault, which, he wrote in an email, “has a very specific definition under Pennsylvania law. Mr. Heim has not been accused of sexual assault as defined in the Pennsylvania Crimes Code within the Petition that was filed nor has he been criminally charged with such.”

McGinnis works at the humane society’s shelter in Shohola for minimum wages. She said Heim grabbed her and sexually harassed her at the workplace.

McGinnis said she didn’t want to comment further until after the hearing continues next month.

She said she’s also struggling with illness while contending with the assault case. She said she suffers from Ehlers Danlos syndrome, a hereditary vascular disease.

According to the Mayo Clinic, people with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome usually have fragile skin that bruises easily and doesn’t heal well.

Other workers at the shelter spoke on the condition of anonymity to say they have heard Heim verbally abuse others at the shelter. Three employees recently quit because of him, they said. They said he does none of the actual work of caring for the shelter animals.

They said Heim has sole control over the shelter’s funds, its checkbook and debit card, and questioned whether the funds are being misused. They said they have seen Heim take shelter property home with him, including computers and printers, and put cash donations in his pocket.

They said Heim’s new girlfriend is a recent hire at the shelter.

Janet Heim, his wife, said he is divorcing her. She told the Courier she too is in the process of getting an order of protection against Heim because he has a gun.

According to GuideStar, an information service that reports on U.S. nonprofit companies, the Pike County Humane Society was granted tax-exempt status in 2001. Its 990 tax filing for 2018, the last filing on record, says the humane society has 72 volunteers and 10 employees. The organization reported $405,897 in revenue and $410,077 in 2018, leaving a shortfall of $4,180. It reported no program services in 2018.

Editor’s note: This article has been updated to include comments from Galasso and to correct the statement that a protection order was already in place by the June 23 hearing. It has also corrected the spelling of Selina McGinnis’s first name.

The Pike County Humane Society Board of Directors:
John Somers, President
Carol Sprout
Barbara Lippincott
Mary Cervati
Kim Alexander
Janet Heim
Barry Heim