Nathan Criswell, who resigned as Hood County Republican Party chair in 2019 after coming under a family violence protective order and is currently co-host of Facebook videos that focus on local politics, pleaded guilty in Tarrant County late last week to having violated the protective order.
He received 150 days in jail probated for 18 months. He will not be incarcerated unless he violates the terms of his probation.
Criswell also was assessed a fine of $1,022.
Criswell was never arrested or charged in the family violence incident, which took place in Hood County on May 6, 2019.
Charges against Criswell for violating the conditions of his bond and protective order were filed by the Fort Worth Police Department one year to the day of that incident, on May 6, 2020.
His appearance before a judge on Friday, Oct. 15 took place in Tarrant County’s County Criminal Court No. 1.
Later that day, a post was made to Criswell’s Facebook page that stated: “In keeping with my beliefs on transparency and accountability, I would like to release the following statement.
“After 17 months of negotiations and Covid delays, this morning I pled guilty to violating a protective order and will be on probation for up to 18 months.
“Last year I acted against my better judgment by agreeing to go to my ex wife’s house, a mistake I will not make again. I went somewhere I wasn’t supposed to go and am being held accountable for it.
“I’ve learned a lot about the system and myself during this process and will continue moving forward.”
According to courtroom testimony, the family violence incident involved Criswell allegedly placing his then-wife, Jeannylee Figueroa Morales, in a chokehold then throwing her across their living room, causing her to sustain further injuries. He also allegedly took temporary possession of Morales’ cell phone, which delayed her ability to call 9-1-1.
Then-355th District Judge Ralph Walton issued an emergency protective order after Morales contacted law enforcement. After a formal hearing was held on May 24, 2019, the judge issued a protective order against Criswell that was to be in effect for one year.
The formal hearing lasted more than two hours and featured testimony from Morales, sheriff’s investigator Toby Fries and Deputy Luciana Cavazos, whom Morales flagged down after she fled the couple’s home in her vehicle with her daughters, then ages 2 ½ and 14 months.
During the hearing, Morales told Walton that she had no problem with Criswell having visitation rights with their children. She stated that he had never harmed the girls and that he was a good father.
Walton denied Criswell’s request for a protective order against Morales.
Criswell is one of two co-hosts who participate in former state Rep. Mike Lang’s The Blue Shark Show videos, which are posted on Facebook and offer commentary on local officials and candidates. Criswell also provides campaign services to candidates for a fee.
He was represented at Friday’s court hearing by Granbury attorney Kellye SoRelle.
Morales, who at the time of the incident was a teacher for the Granbury ISD, has since moved with her daughters to Tarrant County.
On Monday, Morales provided a statement to the HCN that read, in part: “Nathan violated the Protective Order on various occasions from October 2019- March 2020. During that time he would constantly ask me to lift the Protective Order and bragged about his close ties to Sheriff Deeds and the fact that he was no-billed.”
Morales’ statement detailed the incident that she said occurred on March 31 of last year and led to her filing a complaint with Fort Worth police.
She said the incident occurred in the kitchen of her home after she hesitantly agreed to Criswell’s offer to mow her lawn. She wrote that, with their little girls watching from the living room, he hugged her and kissed her neck, “as I said no repeatedly.”
Morales further stated that when she tried to push Criswell away, he fondled her breast and pressed himself against her.
“I decided to call the police after he groped me in my home,” Morales wrote in her statement to the HCN. “That’s when I knew the harassment wouldn’t end if I didn’t report him again. I wanted to avoid going to the police after my experience in Granbury. But FWPD was prompt and took my report seriously. The experience with Tarrant County DA’s office and the FWPD officers was entirely different than my experience in Hood County.”
Morales’ attorney, Melinda Owens of Granbury, said that conditions of Criswell’s probation include having no contact with his ex-wife and not possessing a firearm or ammunition.
She stated that Criswell will continue to be allowed visitations with his children.