MESA, Ariz. — The wife of a now retired Mesa Police Officer under investigation for sexually harassing female officers and civilians is speaking out.
In a phone interview, Heather Neese told 12 News her husband has had an exemplary career and that their family needs to move on.
“My husband and I are very upset by all of this," said Heather Neese. “My husband is a good man. He is not what they say he is. And those women lied about their relationship with my husband.”
Neese was accused by multiple female police officers of sexual harassment, sending explicit texts and drawing the women topless.
Sgt. Neese was demoted and assigned to work at home last summer as the department continues an internal investigation.
“My skin is not thin yet I was at a loss for words when I had received the messages that evening," said Officer Ashley Elliff, a Mesa Police employee who accused Neese of sexual harassment.
“I was shocked, I was appalled and I was disgusted," said Officer Amanda Cook, another officer accusing Neese of sexual harassment.
In December, amid the internal investigation, the City of Mesa's pension board allowed Neese to retire with full benefits. Neese's wife said he was not forced to make that decision. She said they made it together.
"There's frustration," said David Lunn, the attorney representing the female officers.
Lunn said the decision to approve Neese's retirement could stop others from reporting harassment.
"It doesn’t send a good message to the recruits and people, young officers coming out, female officers, saying, now what are you going to do when something happens to you? Nothing's going to happen. So this is a deterrent for them to actually report the harassment," said Lunn.
Still, Neese’s wife stands by him.
“I love my husband and I support him and we just want to move on," said Heather Neese.
The city would not comment Friday but said in a previous statement it has a zero-tolerance policy for workplace harassment.