KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A Knox County Sheriff’s Office captain is retiring on August 11 following a sexual harassment investigation completed on August 8 where investigators determined several of the allegations to be credible.
The investigation began on June 1 following a complaint filed by an employee at a Knoxville restaurant claiming that Michael “Mike” J. Evans smacked her on the butt. During the investigation, Evans was placed on administrative leave.
KCSO’s Office of Professional Standards (OPS) investigators interviewed the employee, two other officers, one who witnessed several of the allegations and another who was in a relationship with the restaurant employee, and Evans.
During the interview with the employee, four allegations were made. The administrative review determined that three of the four allegations were sustained, meaning the allegation was supported by sufficient evidence to believe the incident complained of occurred.
The employee also told investigators that she “felt the outcome of this investigation warranted repercussions, and would ‘hate to see’ him fired but if that was necessary, Captain Evans ‘chose his own actions’.”
The first allegation claims Evans walked by the employee and “hit” her on the butt with his phone as he walked past. The report goes on to say that the employee initially believed that Evans had accidentally touched her until he commented about touching her. The sheriff’s office was also able to review the video of the incident from the restaurant’s security cameras. In his interview, Evans denied the allegation.
However based on the video and the employee’s and another officer’s consistent statements, OPS investigators “determined that Captain Evans lied about this incident” and that “investigators are certain that he intended to touch her butt because of his statement that he made at the table.”
The second allegation claims on the employee’s birthday, Evans while wearing his uniform with his badge and firearm displayed, “grabbed her face, kissed her on the forehead and told her ‘Happy Birthday’.” The interaction reportedly made the employee “very uncomfortable.” Video was not available of the incident due to the restaurant’s retention period of recordings, however, another officer witnessed this incident. In the administrative review, investigators determined that Evans did kiss the employee on her forehead and that Evans “lied about this incident” during his interview.
For the third allegation, the employee told the officer that a 16-year-old employee heard Evans say “Wow, now I’m excited” while she bent over. This allegation was not sustained in the administrative review.
The final allegation was that Evans had told the employee that “I’ll slap you naked and hide your clothes” according to the administrative review. In her interview, the employee said that Evens should have “no reason” to believe his actions were acceptable to her. One of the other officers interviewed said he witnessed Evans ‘frequently” tell women, “I’ll slap you naked and hide your clothes.” However, they were not confident if the statement was directed toward the specific employee. Evans also denied this allegation but investigators believed that the allegation is “more than likely true and rises to the preponderance of the evidence to sustain this allegation.”
The investigation was closed on August 8.