The recent resignation of the police department’s deputy chief after sexual harassment allegations is the third such incident in the city’s six-year history. City officials say there is no evidence of a systemic issue at City Hall.
Juan Grullon voluntarily resigned Nov. 8 after a brief meeting with the city manager and police chief to discuss the allegations made against him and information from a preliminary investigation. His resignation was effective immediately. Only some of the conduct alleged in the complaint was discussed in that Nov. 8 meeting, and Grullon offered his resignation immediately, according to a city spokesperson.
Grullon had been with the police department since the department was founded in 2013 and served as the department’s second-in-command since 2016. Grullon could not be reached for comment.
“We don’t think this is a systemic issue, this is just a one-person issue,” City Manager Christian Sigman said in an interview. “We take every complaint very seriously. And it shows that all the training … doesn’t isolate you.”
Mayor John Ernst said Grullon’s resignation days after the complaint was filed and a preliminary investigation was completed showed the administration worked quickly and effectively to handle the sensitive situation. He also said the latest incident is not part of any systemic issue within city government.
“This is not a city issue,” he said in an interview. “This is part of a larger societal issue.”
Grullon’s case is not the first allegation of sexual harassment within the police department. In 2014, Chief Gary Yandura fired a sergeant after a subordinate accused him of sending her sexually explicit text messages and sexually harassing her. Yandura stated he violated departmental policies including standards of conduct and the sexual harassment/discrimination policy.
The woman then filed an official complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) also alleging sexual harassment on the job at the police department. The city settled the case for $10,000 which was paid for by the city’s insurance. As part of the settlement, the woman waived all claims against the city.
In 2015, former mayor J. Max Davis got swept up in sexual harassment allegations when the former city manager accused him of spraying an aerosol can at a female employee’s buttocks and alleged it was sexual harassment. He apologized for the incident, but the result was a breakdown in city transparency policies including the city’s attorney at the time trying to keep the sexual harassment complaint secret. Davis denied he meant to harm the woman. A witness to the incident filed an EEOC complaint, but it was dismissed. David called the complaint “spurious” and “baseless.”
City officials said the police department has received sexual harassment training every year since its founding in 2013 and all city employees started receiving sexual harassment training this year. They added they do not believe Grullon’s incident is part of an overall problem within the department or at City Hall.
Sigman said the lieutenant who filed the complaint has returned to work.
Following the report about Grullon, city officials said the police department’s sexual harassment training in place is proving successful.
“[W]e believe that the fact that an employee who felt threatened was able to file a complaint, and have that complaint addressed and resolved rapidly, illustrates the training program is working,” city spokesperson Burke Brennan said in a written statement.
This story has been updated to clarify that a witness to former mayor J. Max Davis spraying a woman with aerosol filed a complaint with the EEOC.