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By Brandon Wolf
Following a three-hour hearing, a state district judge on Thursday, Nov. 16, issued a temporary injunction barring former Francisco “Frankie” Quijano, the former president and CEO of Pride Houston Inc., from acting in any way on behalf of the organization.
The injunction, signed by Judge RK Sandill of Harris County’s 127th Civil District Court, effectively extends the terms of a previous restraining order against Quijano, who led Pride Houston from 2011 until Oct. 1 of this year.
Quijano testified during the hearing that he remains president of Pride Houston even though the organization’s board of directors elected Lo Roberts to replace him effective last month. Quijano argued that Roberts isn’t eligible to serve as president because, under the organization’s bylaws, she had not spent a sufficient amount of time on the board.
Pride Houston, which puts on the city’s annual LGBTQ festival and parade, sued Quijano last month, alleging he had refused to relinquish the organization’s assets, including passwords to bank and social media accounts, after being replaced by Roberts on Oct. 1. The suit also alleges that Quijano harassed and threatened current board members.
At Thursday’s hearing, Roberts and Pride Houston board member Jeremy Fain testified that for the last year, Quijano worked closely with Roberts, preparing her to take over as president. Roberts and Fain also testified that Quijano never questioned Roberts’ qualifications during that period, or at the time of her election.
U.A. Lewis, the attorney representing Pride Houston and current board members, said Roberts has been involved in the organization for six years. In addition to serving on nearly every Pride Houston committee, Roberts spent one year as a non-voting board observer, and one year as a voting board member, Lewis said. Quijano maintains that a board observer is not a board member, and that the organization’s bylaws require two years of board service before one is eligible to become president. However, the bylaws don’t appear to make such a distinction between board observer and board member.
Roberts testified that without the injunction, she believes Quijano would continue to hold himself out as president of the organization. Fain testified that he believes Quijano would continue to negotiate contracts on behalf of Pride Houston. Fain also alleged that nearly three-quarters of contracts Quijano signed as president were finalized before board members knew about them.
During a meeting of the current board on Tuesday, Nov. 14, members voted unanimously to remove Quijano from his position as board observer, which he assumed after Roberts was elected president. They also removed Quijano from a Pride committee, and accepted the resignation of his husband, Abijah Kratochvil, a co-defendant in the lawsuit.
The case is set for trial on April 2. Read the injunction below.