Jackson City Council pays former mayor’s legal fees

August 31, 2017 in News

By Othor Cain,

Editor,

After a year of going back and forth in court conversations and the city of Jackson spending more than $100K in legal fees, it all came to an end Tuesday.

It took just five steps and nearly 15 minutes for the Jackson City Council to agree to settle a year-long sexual harassment lawsuit with former city employee Kimberly Bracey that will cost the city an additional $10K.

Bracey, who was an executive assistant to former Mayor Tony Yarber, filed a sexual harassment lawsuit in 2016 against Yarber, but admitted she and Yarber engaged in a consensual sexual affair shortly after he was elected in 2014. Bracey claims when she wanted to end it, she could not for fear of losing her job.

Yarber, who is senior pastor at Relevant Empowerment Church and an educational consultant, vehemently denied all charges and worked aggressively through his legal team to dismiss them. Though unsuccessful with dismissing the charges, Yarber is breathing a sigh of relief based on the actions of the city council Tuesday.

First, it was listed as item number 39 on the city council meeting agenda, an order authorizing resolution of all claims in the matter styled Kimberly Bracey vs City of Jackson.

Secondly, it was amended to include a fee of $10K, to be paid by the city to Bracey, clearing the city of any further involvement in this year long saga and detaching the city from further claims therein.

Thirdly, the second step passed.

Fourthly, it was amended to include the legal fees (amount wasn’t disclosed) of former Mayor Tony Yarber.

Finally, the overall measure that included both amendments passed on a 4-1 vote, officially ending the saga of Bracey vs the City of Jackson. Councilmen Foote, Priester and Stamps along with Councilwoman Lindsay voted for the measure. Councilman Stokes voted against it. Councilman Banks, who once worked for Yarber, recused himself.

Priester and Stokes conversed the most about the agenda item and both took opposite votes of their vocal presentations.

Priester, who represents Ward 2, voted against the amendment to include Yarber’s legal fees. “I think we are paying for something he [Yarber] didn’t ask for and essentially paying for something he [Yarber] created,” Priester said. “I do think however, that it is time to end this nightmare; we’ve already exhausted enough money.”  Priester voted for the final measure.

Stokes, who represents Ward 3, voted for the amendment to include Yarber’s legal fees. “We have in the past paid the legal fees of others, why would we change now,” Stokes asked? “We paid for former Mayor Frank Melton and others…I think we need a fair vote and fair practice, straight across the board.”

Stokes, however, voted against the final measure to a swell of laughter from the audience.