The city of Pharr sued the Texas Attorney General’s Office last week to stop a harassment lawsuit against city manager Edward M. Wylie.
However, when they filed the lawsuit, the city’s attorneys unwittingly disclosed the sexual assault claim.
The complaint revealed that Wylie was accused of sexual misconduct in September 2021, while he was the city’s interim manager. A well-respected female employee with almost two decades of experience in her profession said that Wylie had been sexually assaulted for years.
“He asked me to hug and kiss him (because I greeted a commissioner I’ve known for years in that manner), he asked me to send him bikini pictures . He asked me if my legs were ‘soft or hard’. He also made comments about the way my clothes fit, like ‘Who painted those pants?’ He has also sent me messages telling me that I have a nice body. He admitted he was attracted to me, but he said he wasn’t,” according to the complaint, which was dated Sept. 28, 2021. “At other times, he had chance to put his hand on my shoulder and squeeze. -especially when I sit on my desk, he also puts his hands on my back as I walk out of a room. Other times, he reached out to squeeze my elbow.”
Wylie created a hostile work environment at City Hall, according to the complaint, and controlled the city through a system of “fear and terror.”
“I also learned that during interviews for his own Assistant Manager, one of the applicants indicated that he had left his job due to sexual harassment,” according to the complaint, which continued: “he made the comment ‘I guess we can’t do it. pay him.’ I know I’m not the only person who was intimidated by Edward Wylie.”
Wylie declined to comment.
Of the Time to Progress chose not to identify the employee by name because people who report sexual harassment often experience retaliation.
The employee who is still working for the city said that he believes there should be more education and training about sexual violence in the workplace.
“I think people should be educated,” the employee said Tuesday in an interview with the Time to Progress. “And it must be understood that it is not good.”
On September 2, 2021, about four weeks before the lawsuit was filed, the employee sat down with Wylie to share his concerns. They were joined by an assistant city manager and the director of human resources.
“I got it,” Wylie said, according to a statement prepared by the city’s Human Resources department, which summarized the meeting.
Wylie said he made the comments jokingly because “we all live that way,” according to the memo, but he admitted “they should have taken care of it.”
The employee sent an official complaint to Mayor Ambrosio “Amos” Hernandez on September 29, 2021.
“Recently, after my fourth attempt to discuss his inappropriate and inappropriate behavior with him, he has completely removed me from important meetings and conversations with staff. and management,” according to the complaint. “He won’t respond to my e-mails—at least to confirm that he received them. I have gone from daily contact and personal meetings with staff and management to being completely in the dark and attending meetings and having no contact with Edward Wylie.
The employee also provided the city with screenshots of the text messages, which showed Wylie had sent him inappropriate memes.
One image, described as a “bowling ad,” included the caption: “It’s amazing what you can do with two fingers and a thumb.” Another showed a woman lifting her skirt so a fan could blow air between her legs.
The employee asked the City Commission to conduct an investigation.
“His behavior towards me was clearly vindictive. Other employees have been suspended or terminated under what Edward Wylie did,” according to the complaint. “It’s time to address this elephant in the room. .”
Whether or not Pharr actually did an investigation is unclear.
Documents released by the city do not show any charges against Wylie, who remains interim city manager until April 2022.
According to the city, Wylie returned to his old job, deputy city manager, because he did not want to move to Pharr.
“The City of Pharr’s City Charter requires the city manager to live within the city limits – Mr. Wylie does not live within the city,” according to a statement issued by Pharr. when Wylie resigned.
Pharr kept the complaint, text messages and other documents secret for more than a year.
Of the Time to Progress became aware of the sexual harassment claim in September 2022 and filed a public information request for documents.
Pharr hired a Harlingen-based law firm, which asked the Attorney General’s Office to review the request.
The law firm, Denton Navarro Rocha Bernal & Zech, argued that the disclosure of the documents “does not serve a public interest.” The Attorney General’s Office did not agree and ordered the city to release the documents with revisions designed so that the employee would not be identified.
Pharr responded by filing a lawsuit against the Attorney General’s Office on January 18, in an attempt to prevent the documents from being released.
The law firm attached the harassment complaint, text messages and other documents to the complaint. Travis County Clerk released the complaint and attached documents, which were not filed under seal, in response to a request for court records.