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.

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read the DI wrote on February 14, 2013 at 1:02 pm

So to recap: He dumps her, she freaks out, he reacts to her freakout.

Huth sounds a little out there. To air one's dirty laundry like this is wholly unnecessary.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 14, 2013 at 2:02 pm

The unsavory information aired in public goes with the job of politician.  The whole thing is childish on both their parts.  Now; the public listens to the childishness of "he said, she said" via the attorneys commenting to the local media.  The only purpose of petty scandals involving politicians is the public observation of character.

Most of us, later in life, have speculated "why did I ever allow myself to..."   For politicians, it is the voters wondering "why did he, or she, ever allow themselves..."

cretis16 wrote on February 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Kinda hard to argue when they have the text message.

wayward wrote on February 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

The stuff Gerard said doesn't make much sense.  Never heard of it being a "prosecutable offense" to use a public official's image for profit.  But even if it was, why would the Champaign city attorney be prosecuting it?  With the exception of city ordinance violations, I thought the state's attorney's office and the feds were responsible for prosecuting people.  Did Stavins actually say what Gerard attributed to him?

rsp wrote on February 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm

He may have misunderstood what Stavins meant. It's illegal to use someone's likeness for commercial purposes without their consent, I don't think it matters if they are a public official or not. but given that she may have been using his image in his capacity as the mayor could make a difference. I didn't see the post in question. It sounds like he made it clear he wanted it removed and it wasn't so he repeated the statement to her. He should have had someone else do it for him. Edit it for him at least. 

cuvoter wrote on February 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

So Huth uses the legal system to extort her ex and the News Gazette goes along with it, knowing they are being used. Who is the worst person? Huth, Patrick Wade, or the editor of the paper? Because they should all be ashamed of themselves. Hopefully this rag goes out of business soon

wayward wrote on February 14, 2013 at 3:02 pm

So the News-Gazette is responsible for the stuff Gerard said?

Danno wrote on February 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Wait...Wait...! If this 'rag' goes out of business, none of 'us' will have anything to read; thereby making us more elegible for jury duty!

Mqqneyes wrote on February 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm

  I'm sure the mayor has learned to not delete his incoming texts over this one. And both of them will be lucky to ever get a date in this town again.

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm

I doubt that.  There is always someone for someone out there.  It's Valentine's Day.  Hit the bars, and look for the lonely.

Mqqneyes wrote on February 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm

   The word is out at the bars in Champaign, believe me.

rsp wrote on February 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Look for the lonely or look out for the lonely? Unofficial is coming up if cupid doesn't work. 

Roanrider wrote on February 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Oh please, a court order can retrieve deleted text messages and everyone knows it.

Acandor wrote on February 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

First, Huth broke up with Gerard. After doing so, it appears that Gerard was the one who freaked out, not Huth. The filing shows months of contacts from Gerard threatening Huth - threatening to have her sued, to have her phone shut off, to have friends have her clients fire her, and much more. 

Gerard has filed nothing against Huth. It appears she broke up and tried to walk away and move on (in fact if you review her Facebook page, it appears she is already dating someone else btw).  By all appearances, Gerard was upset by all this and made numerous calls, texts, and emails threatening her. This is not becoming behavior for our mayor. 

From what I have read in the filing (it's available at the courthouse), Huth appears to be protecting her rights, business, and reputation. That's what these laws were enacted for. My read: Gerard needs to come to terms with the breakup and stop acting like a bully, abusing his power to intimidate others.

rsp wrote on February 14, 2013 at 6:02 pm

She was the one threatening to sue him over money before she accused him of everything else. Money from his campaign. The phone is a "joint" account so it has to be changed because it was in his name only. So she can't just keep on using a phone and expect him to pay for it. She was still contacting him about things. She hasn't moved on if she's using his phone. Using his image without consent, etc. Just because he hasn't sued her doesnt mean he wouldn't have grounds just like her filing doesn't mean her suit is valid. And how do you know she broke up with him? Maybe nobody should go out with either of them. Good to know you have time to go read an 85 page document. A one-sided pleading in a case which is not evidence. 

ericbussell wrote on February 15, 2013 at 8:02 am

I have not read the filing.  I just find it rather amazing that anyone would be intimidated by Don Gerard, especially Laura Huth.   When a bulldog asks a judge for an emergency protection order against a shih tzu, how do you even approach that one? 

rsp wrote on February 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

A bulldog asking for an order of protection from a City of Champaign official? Let me think about that for a minute...

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 15, 2013 at 2:02 pm

OMG... more dog stories.  Every article ends up about dogs, or guns.  It's like that Kevin Bacon thing.  Does the mayor, or his ex-ladyfriend have a dog?  Will they fight over the custody of the dog?  Will the dog run away, and accidently be shot by the Champaign police?  Will the mayor, and his ex-ladyfriend reunite at Joe's Brewery sharing their sorrow over the dog?  Stay tuned for the next episode of How C-U Turns.

rsp wrote on February 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm

Somebody bring the donuts!

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I have not eaten donuts for years.  However, I have been thinking about donuts for the last week.  Sprinkles, cinnamon.....  I grew up living down the street from a bakery.  Back at that time, there was no air conditioning except at the theaters.  In the summer time; the smell of fresh baked bread, donuts, and cakes wafted through the air early in the mornings.  With all of the comments on donuts, I am going to buy some Casey's donuts tomorrow morning!!

wayward wrote on February 15, 2013 at 5:02 pm

Dammit, Sid, you're making me hungry.

sweet caroline wrote on February 16, 2013 at 1:02 am

EDITING MY ORIGINAL POST.  I got the Huth/Gerard story mixed up with the Urbana teen who robbed Vine St. Motors with a BB gun.  My apologies. 

As to the Huth/Gerard story, I know both of them and am embarrassed for both of them, airing their laundry in public as the saying goes.  I don't see how it's going to serve either of them well in their professional lives.  They might look back at this scenario some day and wish they had settled their problems privately.

rsp wrote on February 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm

The recipe looked good. 

SaintClarence27 wrote on February 17, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I haven't had campfire donuts in FOREVER.

mimisantiques wrote on February 20, 2013 at 8:02 pm

AMEN... I totally agree... thank you for posting this...

sweet caroline wrote on February 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm

But Danno....just think....free donuts and cinnamon rolls!  Yum!

mstrom wrote on February 14, 2013 at 7:02 pm
Profile Picture

People gossip for many ---- all of them wrong ---- reasons. For example, people of low self-esteem tend to gossip. They do not respect themselves, so they gossip about others and pull them down. This allows their own egos to rise on the ruins of others'. The gossiper experiences a temporary illusions of worth, but quickly descends even lower than before. He or she then yearns to gossip again, aching to experience another high. But down he or she goes again.  Gossip is almost always formed based on rumor, limited first hand knowledge and therefor is almost always an act of passing along information that is not correct.  It is essentially a form of lying.  

Roanrider wrote on February 14, 2013 at 8:02 pm

In that case, every news agency in this town is a big fat liar...

rsp wrote on February 15, 2013 at 6:02 am

And we are all gossips? 

Roanrider wrote on February 15, 2013 at 6:02 am

And apparently Gerard has post-removing lackeys at The News Gazette as well. Not surprised...

rsp wrote on February 15, 2013 at 3:02 pm

And you know this because...he's the all powerfull post-remover?

wayward wrote on February 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I'm guessing your comment got taken down because of the reference to Gerard having a lot of girlfriends.

Roanrider wrote on February 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

And this is news...to whom??

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 15, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Maybe, the last one?

Marti Wilkinson wrote on February 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Huth did work on Gerards campaign, and she made reference to it on her business website at one point. Now, you can't use someones image in a paid advertisement without their permission. However, is a business page for facebook something that is paid for by the proprieter, and do the images qualify as advertisements? My own course work in media law was years before the advent of social media, and it would be interesting to see what the current standard is here.

When newspapers take photos that include crowd shots, they don't have to get a signed release from every person who appears.  Some of the pictures that I saw of Don and Laura on fb were taken at public events, and it may well fall under the banner of public information. Don himself posts pictures of himself at events on a regular basis. So, I wonder within what context was his image used that would be a violation of the law?

Regardless of what anyone's opinion is on this, Laura has the right to go through the process, and to have her case heard. Don also has the right to representation, and to defend himself.

rsp wrote on February 15, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Photos in general taken in public can be used for a news story. After the use in a news story they can be sold for commercial purposes. But putting a photo of a "former client" on your site as an endorsement of your work without consent is not legal regardless of the laws regarding photography rights. She doesn't have to pay for the site for it to be considered advertising. It's there to help her get more business. If that person says take it off you take it off. She ignored the request. Gerard can put up all the photos he wants on his site because it's his site. He's advertising himself. 

Marti Wilkinson wrote on February 16, 2013 at 1:02 am

I understand the legalities of utilizing testimonials/client photos in ones business practices, having spent over ten years working in the field. I was simply speculating on the context within which the photos were being used, as well as wondering what qualifies as paid advertising on facebook. A basic Google images search also shows photos of them at local events, taken by news outlets. When I looked at the fb page and website for her business earlier, I did not see any photos of Don. So Laura apparently has complied with his request to not display his image. 

It's also important to consider that she is also suing him for not paying her for her consulting fees for the work she did on his campaign. It may well be that Don was informally okay with the use of his image prior to the breakup, but in the aftermath he threatened legal action. They may have also had some informal agreements regarding how much he owed her for her professional services. That is something they will have to sort out in court.

Plus, I can't help but wonder about some of the other allegations. The text messages, the threats to interfere with her business, the voice mails, and the emails. According to earlier news reports she went to his house to get her stuff, and he threatened to call the police on her. That strikes me as being a bit extreme, and that is also something that will need to considered. As I noted earlier, both Don and Laura both have the right to have their respective days in court.

rsp wrote on February 16, 2013 at 1:02 pm

Regarding going to his house to get some of her stuff, if she went without his consent and no longer lived there that could be condidered a break in. This is while claiming to be scared of him. Didn't make arrangements to go with the police, a friend. The pictures are down? I'm glad she's following her lawyer's advice. She should have called the lawyer first. The phone she was using was his phone. That's why he was talking about getting it shut off. I think she got off on the fact that it made him mad. I don't think there was any agreement about money, I think it was two people in a relationship who were doing things for each other. She helped with his campaign and he helped with her phone. Back and forth. That's what people do. Angry people a year later make false claims like stalking. I know what it's like to be stalked. This isn't it. This is childish. 

Marti Wilkinson wrote on February 17, 2013 at 12:02 am

It's my understanding that Laura never lived with him, but she had a key to his place. So she basically had permission to enter his home. I do know that when I broke up with this one guy, the first thing I demanded was the return of the keys to my house. If that hadn't happened, I would have changed the locks myself.  Personally, I don't have a dog in this fight, and I've been trying to look at the situation from both sides. That is why I have stated that both parties have the right to their respective days in court. 

Is this a misunderstanding that has been blown out of proportion, or is there something else going on that we members of the general public don't know? That is really hard to say, but if the mayor has threatened to use city resources against a former girlfriend, I would consider that to be cause for concern. As a resident of Champaign, I see that as being a potential abuse of power, and I'm not sure that is conduct becoming an elected official.  

rsp wrote on February 17, 2013 at 2:02 pm

If they had already broken up just having a key doesn't give her permision to enter at will. That's an illegal entry. Especially when she never lived there. He should have had her arrested. The more I hear the more I suspect she is the stalker. 

EL YATIRI wrote on February 16, 2013 at 9:02 am
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Sooooo glad I'm free of crazy relationships!

Sid Saltfork wrote on February 16, 2013 at 11:02 am

Thought about watching Fatal Attraction, or The War of the Roses again this weekend.......; or maybe, googling ex-girlfriends names.  :)

Marti Wilkinson wrote on February 17, 2013 at 12:02 am

El Yatiri - Amen!

charlesf wrote on February 18, 2013 at 10:02 am

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charlesf wrote on February 18, 2013 at 6:02 pm

God bless you, earnest internet commenter.

mimisantiques wrote on February 20, 2013 at 8:02 pm

First off, I find it totally repulsive that Champaign's Mayor is using City legal resources, ie Fred Stavins, to seek advice regarding his personal issues... really??? I am sick of public officals behaving badly then giving the rest of the community the bill with no consequences for their behavior... Moreover, regardless of where the fault falls with these two love birds, the truth falls somewhere in the middle and you and I and the rest of the NG readers will never know what the 'real' truth is... and, to be honest, who gives a crap... let them and the courts work it out and the rest of us should just butt the hell out and stop the gossip train right here and now.. and as far as the NG reporting this, it is just disguisting PR... I don't know Laura Huth personally, however, I know of her and she is a talented business women who has given to this community over and over again - what she is like to live with, is any ones guess and I don't really care... The Mayor, perhaps, should take a 'break' from his mayorship in order to get his priorities in order.... His job is to run the city, not create front page domestic drama... sickening not to mention embarrassing... either way this unfolds, it is not going to bode well for either of them in the short or long term personally or professionally... how sad this has to be in print for everyone to see - neither of them can heal properly and get on with what they need to do with all this BS floating around... NG find something pertent to report for crying out loud... how about, all of those who are in need of health care, those who are hungry, those who are jobless... you know, some real human interest stories....

rsp wrote on February 20, 2013 at 11:02 pm

Don't assume he went to Stavins for legal advice. A few words in passing doesn't mean you're providing him with a legal team. Seriously!

realitybytes wrote on February 21, 2013 at 4:02 pm

Based upon the newspaper article and comments, I believe Laura Huth sounds like a mentally disturbed woman wanting to expose her sordid affair to the citizens of Champaign County. It seems as if she is playing a sick and twisted game in the attempt to destroy the lives of the good people in our community. If it is shown that she is a lying scheming mentally disturbed individual then hopefully the courts, partners, current and future employers, and potential business clients of hers will reject her for what she is. The funny thing is that by memorializing her dirty laundry and sordid affair to the general public she has shown all of us her true character which, in my opinion, seems very low. I hope this freak show is a long and drawn out process so we can all sit back and publicly laugh at her.