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New documents allege former Hearne police Sgt. Yohner made inappropriate remarks

New documents allege former Hearne police Sgt. Yohner made inappropriate remarks

Texas Rangers to investigate police department

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New documents surrounding former Hearne police Sgt. Stephen Yohner have been released, including three complaints about the former officer that detailed a culture of harassment and complaints about the leadership structure of the police department.

Among the documents that were released is an all-purpose personnel action form, which confirms Yohner was placed on paid administrative leave, as well as a letter from Yohner's attorney, Brett Charles. Three letters are included, all of which were written in March and April. The three letters were written by two former officers and one who is currently a part of the Hearne department.

Yohner left the Hearne PD in April after six years with the department. While he has not worked in law enforcement since, his personal information file released by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement shows he completed a course qualifying him to be a firearms instructor in May.

In the first letter, a former officer -- who was not identified in the complaint -- said Yohner made inappropriate sexual remarks to women on the job. The second letter, which was also written by a former officer, detailed a warped chain of command in which Yohner and another officer in the department took charge of all other officers. The second letter detailed bullying and verbal harassment and states Yohner made sexual remarks toward female staff members.

"His constant remarks about women in general, and directly to women at the police department, is degrading," the former officer wrote.

In the second letter, the officer wrote he had intended to stay with the Hearne Police Department for at least two years, but left early because he felt bullied.

The last of the three letters was written by a current officer who was not identified in the documents. The third letter stated Chief Thomas Williams was frequently absent from the department and a culture of bullying and harassment existed.

The current officer wrote that leadership at Hearne PD is lacking and that new officers are not properly overseen and some equipment is never updated. The third officer included screenshots of text message exchanges with Yohner that included sexual comments.

Williams could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon. A letter from Yohner's attorney to the city written when Yohner was first placed on administrative leave said the "allegations of the misconduct alleged in the March 30, 2017, letter are unfounded, and, at best, a misguided decision."

In a statement to The Eagle, City Manager John Naron said he and the mayor contacted the Department of Public Safety Texas Rangers and asked them to look into the department.

"The City of Hearne received several complaints," he wrote. "We have handled the more obvious violations and have decided that it would be best to have an outside source look into this matter. The mayor and I contacted the [Department of Public Safety] Texas Rangers and asked them to look into the department. The Rangers have not shared their findings and it would be inappropriate for us to comment based on speculation. Sgt. Yohner resigned and is no longer working for the Hearne Police Department."

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