A former Hewitt City Council member and two women who allege he harassed, intimidated and placed them in fear of injury settled their lawsuit Wednesday.
Ruth Coffman and Karen Fortenberry, wife of Hewitt Mayor Pro Tem Steve Fortenberry, filed the lawsuit in late February seeking a protective order against Kurt Krakowian after a series of incidents that were spawned by contentious city council meetings and strained relations between council members, city staff and residents.
Krakowian, who resigned his council seat in July 2018, five months after he was appointed, is running for the at-large council seat in the May 4 general election.
His attorney, Robert Callahan, and Christopher Martin, the attorney for Fortenberry and Coffman, filed an 18-point settlement agreement Wednesday that will end the lawsuit.
“We started off defending a protective order,” Callahan said. “We came out of this with a two-way agreement to follow the golden rule. Sometimes the most elegant solution is the simplest. Kurt’s glad to return his attention to serving the people of Hewitt again through re-election to the city council.”
Martin declined comment on the settlement Wednesday and said he instructed Fortenberry and Coffman to do the same.
The women requested the protective order to prevent Krakowian from harassing or stalking them, communicating in person or through social media in a threatening of harassing manner or going within 200 yards of any location where he knows the women are present, including their homes.
Krakowian said in April that the lawsuit was politically motivated.
The lawsuit cited events between May 2018 and Feb. 4 in which the pair allege Krakowian “engaged in an escalating course of conduct to harass and intimidate Mrs. Fortenberry and Mrs. Coffman, to deter them from attending city council meetings and to” try to provoke a confrontation with Steve Fortenberry.
The woman alleged Krakowian became “bolder and more aggressive” at council meetings, followed them around the room, sat behind them and followed Karen Fortenberry to her car to photograph her and post it on Facebook.
They also cited a Feb. 4 council meeting in which they alleged a red-faced and shaking Krakowian “roughly jabbed” Fortenberry in the back. The lawsuit alleged the women feared he was going to hit one or both of them.
The event described in the lawsuit was captured on video at City Hall.
According to the terms of the settlement, parties to the lawsuit agree to remain on opposite sides of the room, “to the fullest extent possible,” while attending events relating to the Hewitt City Council, Hewitt Chamber of Commerce, the city of Waco and Midway schools.
They agreed not to commit “assault, harassment or stalking” against the other party and to commit no act “intended to result in physical harm, death bodily injury or assault.”
The parties also agreed not to follow each other, not to “harass, annoy, alarm, abuse, torment or embarrass” others and not to take photos or video of the opposing party without permission.
Also, they agreed not to “go to or tarry near” the others’ homes or workplace, to avoid the others and not to communicate with them directly, by phone, by mail, email, text message or social media.
A violation of the agreement is subject to a $500 fine, according to the settlement document.