Greater Harrisburg's Community Magazine

He’s Gone: Harrisburg mayoral advisor out after adverse court ruling.

Harrisburg city hall

A senior mayoral aide who was found liable in civil court for threatening an Allison Hill resident is no longer employed with the city, according to a Harrisburg official.

Communications Director Joyce Davis confirmed on Monday morning that Karl Singleton, former senior advisor to Mayor Eric Papenfuse, has not been employed with the city since Tuesday, Jan. 9 — the same day that Papenfuse learned about his court ruling from a Burg reporter. Davis could not say whether Singleton had resigned or been fired.

TheBurg reported last Tuesday that Singleton appeared before Magisterial District Justice David O’Leary on Dec. 19 for a hearing on a civil suit filed last July by Allison Hill resident Timothy Rowbottom. Rowbottom said in court that Singleton threatened his life during a heated argument on May 9, a week before the primary municipal elections, following a debate between mayoral primary candidates at the Hilton Harrisburg.

“I’m from Hall Manor, you should be scared of me,” Singleton allegedly told Rowbottom, referring to Harrisburg’s largest public housing complex, according to the court ruling. “I know where you live; I can have you taken out.”

Rowbottom, who campaigned for Papenfuse challenger Jennie Jenkins during the mayoral primary, allegedly made racist remarks to Singleton prior to the argument. He admitted to calling Singleton “a sorry excuse for a black man” and that he (Rowbottom) “is blacker than [Singleton] ever will be,” stated the court ruling.

In the ruling entered on Dec. 27, O’Leary found Singleton liable for making malicious threats. The judge also said that Singleton’s political position compounded his liability.

Since Rowbottom admitted in court that he was unapologetic for his racially inflammatory remarks and claimed he was unafraid of Singleton, O’Leary only awarded the plaintiff nominal damages.

On Monday morning, however, Rowbottom said that he did take Singleton’s threats seriously. He also said he’s even more afraid now that Singleton no longer holds a position in city hall.

“I had to take him straight,” Rowbottom said. “I’m more afraid now than before. I’m terrified for my life every day.”

Davis said she was unaware of any plans to replace Singleton, whose position was incidentally reduced to part-time in January. Papenfuse said during budget hearings in December that the recent addition of a full-time business advisor to his cabinet reduced the need for a full-time aide.

Both Singleton and Papenfuse declined to comment this morning.

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