Former Henderson police Chief Patrick Moers has filed a lawsuit that accuses Mayor Debra March and other city leaders of soliciting false sexual misconduct claims against him, damaging his reputation and forcing him to resign.
The lawsuit, filed June 14 in Clark County District Court, details Moers’ tense relationship with the mayor and city leadership, including former city manager Robert Murnane, former city attorney Josh Reid, human resources director Jennifer Fenema, former acting police chief Todd Peters and three women who Moers says filed false claims against him.
Moers, who is represented by attorney Leslie Stovall, is seeking more than $50,000 in damages.
“The lawsuit is to shed light on what is occurring in the city of Henderson and what’s happening behind the scenes,” Moers said in an interview Tuesday. “It’s time for people to stand up. The public should know the truth.”
Moers left the Henderson Police Department in May 2017 after signing a separation agreement. The city concealed the reason for his ouster and allowed him to cash out more than $163,000 of unused paid time off. The Review-Journal reported in January that Moers was forced out after the city hired an outside law firm to investigate complaints of sexual harassment.
In the suit, Moers claims he was repeatedly threatened with termination and “injury to his reputation” by March and her administrators after he refused to cover up misconduct in the Henderson Police Department to protect March’s mayoral campaign.
March issued a statement not through the city, but through the public relations firm Trosper Communications, which also ran her campaign.
“I cannot be more disappointed and saddened by the lawsuit filed by the former Chief of Police Patrick Moers,” March said in the statement. “His characterization of me does not depict my values, and those who know me, know this is not the type of behavior I exhibit. I look forward to my day in court and I am currently weighing my legal options. While these circumstances are disheartening, I will not let them interfere with the great momentum the City Council and I have worked so hard to achieve. I will continue to lead our city with dignity and honor.”
In an effort to “avoid causing embarrassment” to the mayor’s campaign, Moers claims, Murnane and Fenema urged him to ignore a complaint against then-deputy chief Peters, who was accused of making sexually explicit comments to a female employee and trying to promote a woman with whom he was having an affair.
Murnane and Fenema could not reached for comment Tuesday.
Moers, who was appointed police chief in 2012, also alleges that city administrators demanded a copy of a sealed criminal investigation, and urged him to “take care” of a traffic ticket issued to Reid’s wife and cover up an assistant city manager’s DUI arrest. Reid, who now works in private practice, is the son of former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid.
“The allegations are ridiculous,” Reid said Tuesday. “I’m positive it’ll be dismissed in court.”
March allegedly demanded that Moers “teach a lesson” to the police union for endorsing Rick Workman in the 2017 race for mayor. The lawsuit says March accused Moers of trying to “destroy” her Henderson Community Foundation by mailing postcards boosting the Friends of Henderson Police Department Foundation. March viewed that group as competition.
According to the suit, Murnane directed Peters to find police employees to make complaints against Moers. Two women who work at the 911 dispatch center, Miranda Ramos and Clarissa Rockwell, submitted claims of sexual harassment and hostile work environment. Moers claims March or her supporters leaked the information to reporters, damaging his reputation.