Mesa PD officers file claim against their own department; sergeant accused of habitual harassment

MESA, Ariz. (FOX 10) - Several Mesa police officers filed a notice of claim against the city and the department on Thursday.

The officers say a police sergeant sexually harassed women on the force and that the city and department failed to properly investigate and discipline the sergeant. Of the victims, six are female officers and one is a male who claims the sergeant sexually harassed his wife.

The harassment reportedly happened for years. All said they had faith in the system, but the city and the police department has failed them.

"Sergeant Neese may not value his integrity, but I value mine," said Amanda Cook.

The alleged victims claim the harassment was brought on by Sergeant Jeffery Neese. They claim Neese sent them explicit, sexually graphic text messages and even painted a nude photo of three of the officers.

"He sent these unwanted sexual proposals to personal cell phones and Facebook pages," said Cook. "They were sent at all hours of the day, with graphic language and graphic emojis."

In some of the messages sent by Neese, he wrote, he's "too much", and even apologized several times. The alleged victims claim the harassment started in 2014 and ended in 2018. The first complaint was filed with HR in august last year. Many of the alleged victims said they never came forward, out of fear for retaliation.

"Like most victims in this situation, I had my career to think about," said Cook. "I thought my career was too important, and I didn't want to rock the boat as a brand new rookie officer."

After several HR claims, Neese was taken off of the SWAT Team, and has been demoted to a patrol officer. The alleged victims, however, claim this is not enough.

"For the city to allow him in a position where he's most able to continue his predatory acts is sickening," said alleged victim Brandon Hamilton.

The alleged victims are each seeking $150,000 in damages. They said when Neese was questioned, he said some of the messages were OK, because he wasn't on the clock, and even said the messages were mutual. FOX 10 has reached out to the City of Mesa and Mesa Police Department on Thursday, but officials with the city and the police department said they can't comment on pending litigations.