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Grievance filed against Abilene councilman for harassment

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ABILENE, Texas - An Abilene city spokesperson filed a grievance against an active city council member, claiming he harassed her about the scheduling of a photo shoot.

We obtained the documents and spoke to the city council member, Bruce Kreitler, to piece together what happened after that photo shoot inside Abilene City Hall.

According to the grievance filed by city spokesperson Cheryl Sawyers, Kreitler addressed her about the scheduling of the shoot at about 8:15 a.m. on March 10, right after it took place. She says Kreitler blocked her in the hallway leading to her office, leaned close to her, and said in a harsh tone and through clenched teeth to not "ever schedule something for [him] before a council meeting."

She said she felt that Kreitler meant to intimidate and harass her.

Kreitler called the issue a "non-event" and said that Sawyers' grievance was filled with "outlandish claims."

"I did not block the hallway, as the complaint says, I have no idea if I clenched my teeth – I doubt it," Kreitler told KTXS Thursday.

Sawyers said in her statement that she felt Kreitler created a hostile and degrading environment, and that his actions were "with deliberate intent" to embarrass her.

However, Kreitler said he didn't raise his voice during the interaction.

"You know, if somebody can't handle being told, ‘Hey, don't schedule anything for me before a city council meeting ever again,' perhaps they're not the right person for director of public information," Kreitler said.

But Sawyers is on her way out as spokesperson for the city of Abilene. She announced her resignation due to what she says are reasons unrelated to the grievance. She said her active duty military husband received new orders forcing them to relocate.

Kreitler questioned the timing of the grievance and mentioned an exchange he had with Sawyers earlier in the year, effectively calling into question the relevancy of her position.

"I just find the timing of this to be a little odd, and particularly because I'm one of those people that thinks that job should be rolled into the public information officer's job that we have for the police department," Kreitler said.

Sawyers sent KTXS a statement about the grievance Thursday.

"It's unfortunate that Bruce felt that his position entitled him to threaten a city employee and that he feels that he did nothing wrong with his actions," Sawyers said in the message.

We learned that it was Robert Hanna who originally scheduled that March photo shoot. Kreitler said he wasn't made aware of that beforehand, but that had he known, he would have had the same reaction.

At this point, no disciplinary action has been taken, and Kreitler filed an official response to the grievance disputing Sawyers' statement.

Sawyers' last day with the city is Friday.

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