Judge issues no-contact order; Huth, Gerard agree on terms
URBANA — Champaign Mayor Don Gerard was ordered by a judge on Thursday not to contact Laura Huth, his ex-girlfriend and former Urbana City Council member, for two years.
Judge Holly Clemons' ruling in Huth's favor brought an end to her request for an order of protection against the mayor, which has been ongoing for more than eight months. Both appeared with their attorneys in court on Thursday.
Huth said she is "grateful" the matter has come to a conclusion.
"This last year has been very painful for me," Huth later said outside the courtroom.
The case never went to trial — in fact, it ended relatively cordially as the two parties ultimately came to an agreement on what Clemons' order of protection should say. The court arguments between the two attorneys prior to Thursday's conclusion had not been as agreeable.
Huth, whose dating relationship with Gerard ended in July 2012 before she filed for an order of protection in October, said she never wanted it to get this far.
"I was hoping that this would never go to court," she said.
Gerard's attorney, Bruce Ratcliffe, said earlier this week that the mayor was prepared to concede the case and let Clemons enter a ruling in Huth's favor. In a prepared statement on Thursday, he said that surprise move was in order to bring a quick end to the conflict.
"Mr. Gerard realizes the toll this is taking not only on him and his family, but also Ms. Huth and the citizens of Champaign," Ratcliffe said. "It is now time to end it."
Huth alleged in her complaint that Gerard harassed her and her business following their July 2012 breakup. Ratcliffe on Thursday maintained Gerard's denials of the allegations of harassment.
"While Mr. Gerard denies he has done those things alleged in the complaint, he has asked to have an order entered stating that he is prohibited from having any contact with Ms. Huth, contact which has not occurred for many months except for a letter of apology we sent to her through her attorney," Ratcliffe said. "He, too, wants no contact with Ms. Huth."
The two still have a small-claims case pending. Huth claims Gerard owes her $3,233.75 for consulting work she did while they were dating last year. Ratcliffe suggested that case will go to trial.
Huth's attorney, Michael Antoline, said attempts to characterize the dispute as a spat between a girlfriend and boyfriend are inaccurate. He said the "spat" ended when they broke up in July, he said, but the alleged harassment continued.
The two sides agreed not to put a distance restriction on the order. They anticipate that they might end up in the same place at the same time in their roles as public figures.
Ratcliffe said, "It is time to move on."
"The business of the city and the business of the university, his employer, is too important and too pressing to have this continued distraction," Ratcliffe said.