Incidents of hostility, intimidation and harassment preceded the departure of former Henderson Police Chief Patrick Moers and former Deputy Chief Bobby Long, according to an internal investigation obtained by the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
An outside law firm’s eight-day investigation substantiated claims of inappropriate conduct by Moers, corroborating a Review-Journal story from January that revealed the former chief was forced out amid sexual harassment allegations.
Investigators found that Moers sent an employee sexually suggestive text messages, including one with a photo of an adult store and the text, “you are forever associated with it when I go passed.”
Moers told the Review-Journal that the investigation was biased and that he does not recall sending that message. He added that text messages he sent were not harassing in nature.
The employee who received the texts told investigators that she was not offended, but described the messages as “creepy” and said she would probably not feel comfortable confronting Moers if she were offended.
An officer told investigators he saw Moers touch a female employee’s buttocks at a promotion party, confirming another report of misconduct. Moers denied the allegation to investigators and reiterated his innocence on Thursday.
Long denied sending text messages of a sexual nature. He said a female employee’s messages to him made him uncomfortable, but he “mirrored back her texts so as not to create any awkwardness between them and that nothing he said was sexual,” according to the report.
Long told a subordinate that an employee was “past her prime, has been at the department too long, and that he is waiting for her to fail,” according to the report.
“Deputy Chief Long has created an atmosphere where multiple female employees reported being fearful of him,” the report said.
Long told the Review-Journal on Thursday that he has not seen the report. He thought the investigation was one-sided. He claims his ouster was the result of an elaborate scheme crafted by Henderson Mayor Debra March because the police supervisors union supported her opponent, a Police Department employee, during last year’s mayoral race. She also was upset about Moers’ and Long’s involvement with the Friends of Henderson Police Department Foundation, he said.
“The individual can’t fight city hall,” Long said.
Moers said the law firm’s investigation was the result of disgruntled dispatchers who were upset that Moers and Long wanted to hold their department accountable.
Ultimately, investigators found that Moers violated multiple city policies, including sexual harassment and subjecting an employee to unwelcome conduct. Long also violated policies by using abusive language and yelling at an employee. The investigating firm recommended that both men be terminated.
The city announced in June 2017 that Moers and Long “voluntarily separated” from the department but refused to say why. Henderson officials rejected Review-Journal public records requests for the investigative report, claiming it was confidential because it was a personnel record and that making the report public would discourage employees from coming forward with complaints.
Henderson released the heavily redacted report this month after an ethics complaint was filed against March, citing an October decision by the Nevada Supreme Court that allowed the Review-Journal to obtain complaints against Clark County School Board Trustee Kevin Child.
In the ethics complaint filed this month, former Friends of Henderson Police Department President Jeff Crampton accuses March of feeding a false story to the Review-Journal that was intended to discredit his charitable organization and oust Moers and Long.
Crampton alleges March believed the foundation was a competitor of a charitable organization she supports, and that this consideration motivated her to tell a reporter that the city was investigating the foundation.
Some allegations in the complaint resemble those in a lawsuit Moers filed this year against March and other city officials. The case is in federal court, where a motion to dismiss is pending.
“This is another attempt by Jeff Crampton and others associated with former Henderson Police Chief Patrick Moers to litigate these false allegations and I am confident that the matter will be dismissed,” March said in a statement about the ethics complaint. “I am extremely disappointed that Jeff Crampton and others continue to waste taxpayer dollars by recycling the same false allegations in a different forum.”
Crampton said his complaint has nothing to do with Moers’ lawsuit. He said he filed the complaint because the story damaged the foundation and his reputation.
“Her being unethical is not something that’s false,” he said. “It’s already been confirmed by the state ethics board.”
The mayor in March was ordered to undergo training and not run afoul of the Ethics Commission for a year after an ethics investigation found she did not disclose her involvement with the Henderson Community Foundation during City Council votes related to the organization.
City Manager Richard Derrick said in a statement Thursday that the departure of Moers and Long had nothing to do with the allegations in Crampton’s ethics complaint.
In May 2017 — days before the newspaper published the story referenced in the ethics complaint — an employee reported that she feared losing her job for rejecting Moers’ “sexual overtures,” according to the report.
Despite the law firm’s recommendation of termination, the city gave Moers and Long a separation agreement.
Their departures proved costly for the city, netting the men a combined payout of nearly $400,000 in accrued paid time off. If they had been fired, they would not have received that money, a city spokesman said at the time.
Moers said he was threatened with termination if he did not sign an agreement to remain silent after he left.
“A lot of factors go into decisions concerning separation agreements,” Derrick said in a statement. “I was not privy to the reasons why the prior administration entered into an agreement, but I am confident that, at the time, they made the decision they thought was best for the City.”
Former Henderson City Attorney Josh Reid would not discuss the decision to allow both men to resign. Former City Manager Robert Murnane did not return a phone call seeking comment.
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