Ex-Newton Falls chief gets $50,000 severance

NEWTON FALLS – The village has agreed to pay former police Chief John Kuivila six months of severance pay, including vacation hours and benefits, totaling about $50,000, according to his lawyer Kimberly Kendall.

“In the end, they exercised their rights,” Kendall said on Friday.

Kendall said she was notified of the severance agreement by email a few days after Kuivila was terminated by a unanimous council vote on Feb. 12.

According to the termination ordinance, the decision was made as an emergency measure to preserve public peace, health, welfare and the safety of the community. In December, an investigation was made into allegations of sexual harassment by Kuivila after two female employees at the police department turned in handwritten statements to Village Manager Jack Haney.

Kendall maintains that Kuivila did nothing wrong and that for this reason the council was forced to use the “no cause” section of Kuivila’s contract as opposed to the “for cause” section to terminate his employment.

At this time, she said she is unaware of any pending litigation.

“The majority of City Council of Newton Falls believes that the Police Chief has undermined his ability to remain an effective leader,” said Haney in a news release from Feb. 12. “Further, the City Council believes this action is for the good of all concerned, including the community, Police Department and the parties involved.”

Haney declined to comment on the matter further, and Kuivila was unable to be reached for comment.