Mesa Police Officer Jeffrey Neese has been pulled from his duties after two more women reported they were sexually harassed by the former sergeant.
Multiple female Mesa officers came forward last week to announce they intend to file a $1 million lawsuit against the city and police department alleging they failed to adequately discipline Neese for sending graphic sexual text messages and explicit sketches.
On Tuesday, a city spokesman confirmed two more women reported allegations against Neese that occurred in 2017 and 2018. Neither of the women work for the city.
Neese has since been “reassigned to his home” while the matter is under investigation. He is still receiving pay at this time.
David Lunn, the attorney for the women who previously accused Neese of sexual harassment, said the decision to pull Neese from duty is “too late to remedy the hostile work environment that several officers have felt for the last nine months.” He questioned why Neese’s still receiving pay and how many other victims there could be.
“How many victims does it take for the City to follow its zero tolerance policy?” Lunn said in a statement.
Lunn also said Neese found his victims while working off-duty jobs where he wore his Mesa police uniform.
“How many more victims will continue stepping forward, now as the victim list continues to grow?” he said. “It begs the question of if the City was aware of Neese’s predatory behavior prior to these officers coming forward.”
Arizona Peace Officer Standards and Training Board records show Neese first joined Mesa police in 1999. He rose to the role of sergeant over the SWAT team and also served as an instructor at the police academy.
According to the notice of claim, the earliest known allegations of sexual harassment occurred in 2014 and continued until the women reported his behavior in August 2018.
In text messages, Neese graphically described masturbating to memories of interactions with the women and fantasies involving them, according to the notice of claim.
Human resources documents detailing the city’s investigation into the complaints show Neese claimed he had no knowledge of the text messages or that the women made them up.
The city’s human resources department announced the allegations were sustained in October.
Initially, Neese was going to be moved to a sergeant position in the patrol department in addition to receiving a 50-hour unpaid suspension as discipline. He was pulled from SWAT, but the suspension was postponed after another victim came forward.
Her allegations also were sustained by HR. However, the city ultimately decided Neese would keep his job but be demoted to an officer’s rank within the patrol division.
City officials said he went through the same sexual harassment training all employees must attend in addition to a second one-on-one training after the complaints first emerged in 2018.
Neese is eligible for retirement in December.
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