Huth lawyer: Gerard threatened city prosecution
URBANA — A lawyer for Champaign Mayor Don Gerard's ex-girlfriend told a judge on Thursday that the mayor threatened to use taxpayer-funded resources to intimidate her following a break-up.
Laura Huth, a former Urbana City Council member and Gerard's ex-girlfriend, last year sought a stalking/no-contact order from the court, and attorneys for the two were in court on Thursday.
Huth's attorney, Michael Antoline, told a judge that Gerard left voicemail messages for Huth in which he threatened to have the city attorney prosecute her. The mayor's lawyer says the claims are "far-fetched at best."
According to the complaint filed last year, Gerard said in a voicemail message to Huth that, "You might want to call (City Attorney) Fred Stavins because apparently it's a prosecutable offense to use an elected official's image for profit."
In another message a few minutes later, according to the complaint, Gerard said, "I'm going to go ahead and tell Fred (Stavins), 'Yeah, let's go ahead and have the city move forward on that prosecution.'"
That is one of several "repeated threats of intimidation" against Huth, Antoline said.
"This has to stop," Antoline said.
Gerard said later on Thursday that an unauthorized photo of him was used on a Facebook page for a business with which Huth was involved. He said Stavins initiated the conversation with Gerard that, if the use of the photo was unauthorized, that it was a violation of the law.
Bruce Ratcliffe, the mayor's attorney, said the claims are outlandish, and he said he was "confused" by Antoline's 85-page pleading for relief under the state's Domestic Violence Act.
"It's rather confusing and disjointed," Ratcliffe told Judge Holly Clemons. "I don't think it's very well pled."
Huth first filed for an emergency stalking/no-contact order on Oct. 25. A judge immediately denied the emergency request, and hearings are now proceeding on Huth's request for an order of protection.
Neither Huth nor Gerard was present for Thursday's hearing as their lawyers settled procedural matters. They are next scheduled for a status hearing on April 11.