EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – Court documents revealed details of the sexual harassment allegations made against two El Paso Police officers who were arrested for official oppression.
The officers arrested were 19-year veteran Lieutenant John Surface and 21-year veteran Sergeant Adan Chavez.
The accusers are two female El Paso Police officers.
Court documents revealed sexual harassment allegations by one of the female officers dating back to 2016 involving Lieutenant Surface.
One of the female officers alleges that Surface asked to touch and kiss her on numerous occasions and allegedly asked for nude photos of her and showed them to other officers.
Court documents say the the female officer felt she had to send Surface the nude photos and fulfill his request to touch her breast and kiss her because she says he made it obvious he would make her job difficult if she didn’t fulfill his requests.
Alleging that at one point when the female officer was five months pregnant, Surface showed up at her home and when she said she did not want him to come inside, he went through her backyard and into her bedroom.
Alleging that Surface asked her if she wanted to do something sexual with him and she said no, saying she feared for her safety and that Surface eventually left.
The female officer said that on numerous occasions, she tried to end the favors with Surface but alleges he would retaliate.
In 2021, the female officer said she was afraid of Surface describing an incident from July 2021.
In court documents the female officer alleges she was on the phone and Surface made a comment saying she was on the phone too much. She waved her phone at him and said that her phone contained a lot of information referring to the text messages from Surface.
Allegedly, Chavez later told the female officer that Surface said they should hold her down and smash her phone.
The female officer was promoted to sergeant in January 2022 and was placed in another region of the city. When asked why she wasn’t going for a position in the criminalists unit she said she did not want to work under Surface.
Allegedly, Surface became aware of the comments and asked Chavez to relay a message to her that she needed to “shut the *blank* up because one day he was going to make commander and she would be working under him again and would make her life hell.”
Court documents for Sargent Chavez revealed that the other female officer provided text messages from an incident that happened on May 27, 2023, between herself and Chavez that showed he failed to take action to prevent sexual harassment and unwanted sexual advances to the female officer by Lieutenant Surface.
The other female officer alleges that she was told by Chavez that if she didn’t comply with Surface’s advances and requests for sexual favors, she would face disciplinary action.
Police say Lieutenant Surface, a 19-year veteran, 43, was charged with two offenses of official oppression totaling a $30,000 bond.
Sergeant Chavez, a 21-year veteran, 44, was charged with one offense of official oppression with a $7,500 bond.
The El Paso Police Department Interim Police Chief Peter Pacillas spoke the day after the officers were arrested.
“We want everybody to come to work and feel comfortable and safe in the environment that they work in, and we want them to understand that. It doesn’t matter what gender they’re, but anybody can report any allegations of misconduct,” said Pacillas.
Brining up the number of officers the department has.
“We have over 1,100 swears that are going out there every single day, doing their duty to protect and serve the citizens of El Paso, along with a number over 200 civilians that do that do the same thing. But I think this shows that the El Paso Police Department does take these allegations and these reports of misconduct seriously,” said Pacillas.
Pacillas said the department is working on a new Sexual Harassment training.
“The department has always had training on sexual harassment. The city policies also stipulate that, and all city employees get training, and the police department does, too. So, we do that every year. And of course, we ensure that people understand what the policies and procedures are,” said Pacillas.