Falls chief investigated

NEWTON FALLS – Police Chief John Kuivila is being investigated on accusations of sexual harassment toward a female co-worker and on claims that he threatened another worker.

Village Manager Jack Haney and Law Director Joseph Fritz are leading the investigation. Haney said Tuesday, “There is no story yet” as the investigation is ongoing.

On Thursday, Haney requested an executive session to discuss personnel. The closed-door meeting was held Friday. Officials met for about 20 minutes to discuss “head of department personnel.” No action was taken after the meeting and officials declined to comment.

Fritz, Kuivila, Mayor Waddell and several police clerks were either unable to be reached for comments or declined to comment when reached.

The investigation began after a clerk working for the department gave a handwritten note to village authorities on Jan.11, claiming that Kuivila made remarks about her body after she returned from maternity leave. She said in the statement that the remarks made her feel uncomfortable.

A second note was turned in on Jan. 13 from an officer who said that Kuivila threatened her if she didn’t keep quiet.

Kuivila responded to the accusations in a statement to Haney in which Kuivila admitted to corresponding with the clerk via text messages, email and other forms of communications, and referred to a confrontation that his wife had with the clerk over the messages.

He did not admit to harassment or any inappropriate correspondence, and claimed his rights to not incriminate himself.

Village Council will meet at 6 p.m. Monday in regular session.

This is not the only investigation Kuivila is under. The Ohio Ethics Commission is investigating his relationship to a car dealership that the police department was going to buy cars from before they were removed from the village’s budget at the end of 2012.

Council sent the investigation to the Ohio Ethics Commission on Dec. 17 after entering executive session twice.

Tribune Chronicle newspartner WYTV 33 News contributed to this story.