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Reports detail sexually explicit misconduct and other claims about Mathis Police Department

EXCLUSIVE: Eleven statements detail instances of a hostile work environment, sexually explicit misconduct, intimidation and tampering with evidence, among other claims.
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Posted at 4:59 AM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-12 17:10:06-04

MATHIS, Texas — More reports have been released detailing sexually explicit misconduct, intimidation, and other claims about the Mathis Police Department.

The statements -- some of which are shown here in full, with appropriate redactions, -- detail instances of a hostile work environment, sexually explicit misconduct, intimidation, tampering with evidence, and other claims.

The statements allege a pattern of inappropriate behavior by the Mathis Police Chief Marshall Scott Roush and two other department members, which prompted an executive session Monday evening.

Current and former Mathis city staffers -- Brent J. Grundstrom, Robert Brake, Eusebio Lerma, Amy Cuevas, Elizabeth Breedlove, Jeremy Wendt, Bonnie Small, Ian Whitehill, Rhonda Payne, Ryan Taylor and Ashley Smith -- submitted 11 written reports to the Mathis city manager.

Before councilors met behind closed doors, Lerma, a former corporal, spoke.

Although Eusebio Lerma Jr.’s report focused on the feeling that he was being forced to resign, he mentioned an instance in which he alleges Roush made a distasteful comment about autistic people.

“I wanted to contact Scott Roush and tell him exactly what I thought about that statement,” Lerma said to councilors.

The closed session, which lasted several hours, resulted in the entire council voting to direct city manager Michael Barrera to address the police department's allegations. The mayor did clarifiy, however, that this decision would not include immediate employee suspensions or terminations.

“We don’t terminate people until a thorough investigation is done, and normally everybody is given a second chance to try to correct any issues,” said mayor Ciri Villarreal. “That’s the direction that we’ve given our city manager to correct any deficiencies, and that’s the direction we’re headed.”

Michael Barrera said the city's investigation aims to remedy any current deficiencies within the Mathis Police Department.

“We’ve had some complaints . . . over there, and you know, all agencies can always look to try to prove on their operation, " he said. "And that’s what we’re going to do. We’ve got some things we need to address. It’s not only at the police department, it’s the organization as a whole. That’s what these kinds of things bring out.”

When asked specifically about one instance that Roush allegedly stole Viagra from the police department’s evidence room for personal use — an accusation put forward by Grundstrom, a former operations lieutenant, and corroborated by Lerma -- Barrera said that no evidence currently supports that accusation nor anything else within the 10 other reports.

“We’re not trying to do anything wrong here,” Barrera said. “We’re truly trying to make a good organization, and when people try to drag us down with allegations that aren’t substantiated -- doesn’t help anybody.”

When asked what evidence it would take for him to change his mind, Barrera said he wasn’t sure, and that it would depend on the situation.

Digital content producers Nicholas Smith and Ryan Garza contributed to this story.