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Counter-claim Granted in Alleged Racial Slur Incident, Report Says

Homeowner says the village worker cursed and verbally harassed him. Now both are facing harassment charges.

A judge found probable cause in a counter-claim filed by Ridgewood homeowner accused of uttering a racial slur at a village sanitation worker in late December, northjersey.com is reporting.

On Monday, Patch reported that a village sanitation worker – identified as Wallace Handcock – while he was picking up refuse in the neighborhood on Dec 26.

Glen Rock Judge Russel Teschon found enough probable cause to have a harassment charge filed against Koret, 68. On Tuesday night, Koret's counter-claim was also found to have merit, northjersey.com reported.

The site says Koret testified in a probable cause hearing that his trash had not been picked up for weeks and when he confronted Handcock, the worker cursed and verbally harassed him. Like Koret, the worker will now also face harassment charges.

Melvin Freedenberg January 23, 2013 at 01:53 PM
Most will not touch this with a ten foot pole but I will. A sanitation worker does not make policy. If a garbage pickup is missed for several weeks, there are supervisors to call to make a complaint. If Mr. Koret wants to be a sanitation worker for a day, he will see that the job is not for the love of the smell of garbage. It is a difficult job and one that must be done. Approaching a sanitation worker to make a complaint should not even be given consideration. My guess is that they both lost their cool but Mr. Koret probably did not follow proper procedure. Even if it took a personal visit to the Director of Sanitation's office, that is the effort that should have been made and not a confrontation with the worker. I think the Glen Rock judge is mistaken in having Mr. Handcock face harassment charges.
Flygrl January 23, 2013 at 03:19 PM
I agree with Melvin. It was a direct personal slur and was unjust. This homeowner should have been fined and reprimanded for his behavior. Who is he to say that?... Maybe the judge should put him on garbage duty 4am-4pm . Lets see if that takes care of his garbage mouth.
Bill Grae January 23, 2013 at 04:10 PM
I don't know Koret, and my personal gripes about the consistency of garbage pickup in Ridgewood wax and wane. However, since when does shouting a slur - even,oh my gosh, a racial slur - at someone constitute legally cognizable harassment? From what I can glean from the article, we're talking about CRIMINAL harassment charges. Insulting someone should not be an act that can give rise to criminal liability, whether the insult is glancing, penetrating or motivated by even the basest intent. Why isn't this a First Amendment issue? Shouting a slur is a form of verbal expression - it's not even actionable slander, civilly. We don't fine people for being jerks: we'd all face financial ruin, from time to time. There's a legal issue that's being obscured by the distasteful character of Koret's choice of insult and our desire to distance ourselves from the days when calling someone a nigger came anywhere close to conduct our social mores permitted. Those days are way gone, and the Village may justifiably refuse to provide services to recipients who subject its employees to this sort of abuse . . . but as conduct goes, it remains a verbal statement and a verbal statement alone. Nothing in the article suggests that there was any sort of threat of violence or attempt to intimidate Mr. Wallace - we're talking pure speech in the heat of the moment.
thetentman January 23, 2013 at 04:15 PM
The sanitation guys in this town are great. The homeowner should be chastised for his rudeness, incivility and insensibility
JT January 23, 2013 at 07:16 PM
I always find the sanitation workers to be very friendly and considerate. Hard to believe what I'm hearing about Mr. Handcock.
Brian January 23, 2013 at 07:59 PM
As I posted on the other thread regarding this story, it is illegal to yell at other people, especially in a menacing way. Doing so can be considered assault or harassment depending on the context. This is especially true for a public official while he/she is working. Yelling insults at someone while they are doing their job in the street is not protected by the First Amendment (unless perhaps if the person is a public figure). There are no charges for a hate crime in this case. It is not the particular words but rather the act of harassment which is in question. From the available information, it seems clear that the phrase that Mr. Koret allegedly used in addressing Mr. Wallace was an attempt to intimidate and attack Mr. Wallace. Both men have been charged with harassment because of the alleged cursing and insults which a judge agreed may have risen to the level of harassment. The court will hear from these men as well as the witnesses that are said to be available and hopefully we will get a clearer idea of what transpired.
RdgwdGRock January 23, 2013 at 08:33 PM
Patch always has the latest garbage news
Michael Sedon January 23, 2013 at 08:34 PM
Can't we all just get along?
Anonymous January 23, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Brian - I'm not being argumentative, just curious - please cite the support for the statements in the first paragraph of your post. Thanks.
Hanna Lynx January 23, 2013 at 10:01 PM
I live aroud the corner form Alanon Rd and have always found the sanitation workers to be polite and friendly. If Mr. Koret did what is alleged, perhaps 40 hours of community should be his consequence. Yes, working for the satitation Dept.
Beachbum January 24, 2013 at 04:06 AM
Wallace is also the gentleman who has picked up garbage in our neighborhood for years. I have had many conversations with him over the years, and found him to be quite a lovely man. I cannot see Wallace initiating this.
Melvin Freedenberg January 24, 2013 at 10:37 AM
In the old days, an arranged meeting between the aggrieved parties would have settled this issue. Each would have realized that in the heat of the moment they let their anger,frustration, and prejudices get the best of them. A heartfelt apology would be in order, said and done. Today, we have courts, lawyers, and money standing in the way of allowing civility to take over and in thirty seconds, they wouldl have been burying the hatchet. It is a wonder that John Boenhner didn't sue Michelle Obama for rolling her eyes at the Presidential luncheon. I am sure that some lawyer would have taken the case. Don't our courts have more important ways to spend their time? Is everything about money? Have we come this far in perverted thinking? When did men stop becoming men and women stop becoming women? This whole thing makes me sick.
pat January 25, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Both parties went to the police department to file charges. I would doubt that they (unless they have a bit of legal knowledge) would know what statutes (that were violated) to put in their complaints; the police officer taking the complaints probably made that decision. Why not ask the officer what his/her logic was in choosing the actual charges?
Concerned January 27, 2013 at 07:24 PM
I know Mr. Hancock. And him being a Jehovah's witness means that it is against his religion to use profanity. So Mr. Kortet's counter claim sounds bogus to me. He is also a very polite person who does his job with pride and dignity.
Kris January 28, 2013 at 12:52 AM
Melvin, in the "old days", the old dude would drop the N- bomb on the younger, fitter sanitation worker, and the sanitation worker would have knocked him on his ass. And the homeowner would have learned a valuable lesson. I miss those days.


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