Police chief resigns after investigation uncovers racy messages
Nov 29, 2012 10:12 PM
Reported By Joseph Pleasant, Reporter - bio | email
BURNS, Tenn. -
The chief of police in Burns is off the job after racy text messages to a young mother came to light following a domestic assault arrest.
Tase Sturgill resigned as chief of police Monday after an investigation into a domestic assault uncovered explicit text messages and lewd photos sent to a local woman from the police chief's cell phone.
The woman's boyfriend saw the text messages and became enraged. Dickson County sheriff's deputies were called to the woman's Burns' home and shown the text messages.
The woman's boyfriend, Justin Anderson, was arrested for domestic assault, simple possession of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia.
Deputies found what appeared to be marijuana and two bongs inside of Decker's home. Anderson admitted that they belonged to him.
Sturgill is not facing criminal charges in connection with the arrest and was not present when Anderson was taken into custody.
He did not immediately return a message for comment left by Nashville's News 2.
The woman who received the text messages and pictures said she did not have a sexual relationship with Sturgill, who is married, and did not like getting the pictures.
"I was completely uncomfortable with it," Amanda Decker said. "It started with him telling me ‘Oh you are so beautiful' and stuff like that then it just seemed like overnight it progressed into the vulgar things he was saying."
Decker told Nashville's News 2 the text messages started after Sturgill answered a call for service at a local business where she works.
She showed Nashville News 2 some of the text messages.
In one, Sturgill suggest the two have a sexual encounter in the office of the store where Decker is a manager.
In another text message he describes his genitals and sexual acts he wanted to perform on Decker.
Decker said she responded to some of the messages, but not in a sexual way, and she did not encourage the chief to continue to contact her.
"When he would come into the store the girls would tell me so I could hide and he couldn't find me to talk to me," she said.
Decker said she feared retaliation from Sturgill if she reported the text messages to Burns officials.
Decker's boyfriend was aware of the text messages when they started in March.
"I told my boyfriend about it," she said. "He said make sure you save all of your text messages in case anything does happen I want you to have proof."
Early Sunday morning her boyfriend returned home and saw new messages from Sturgill.
According to his arrest report, Anderson was intoxicated. He started screaming and throwing items.
When deputies arrived he told them Sturgill was sending pictures of his genitalia to his girlfriend.
Deputies reviewed the pictures and text messages as part of the domestic assault investigation at Decker's home.
They logged the text messages and pictures into evidence before transporting Anderson to jail.
When word spread about the text messages and pictures, Sturgill resigned his position as police chief effective on Monday.
Burns Police Sgt. Vance Bowker is acting as interim police chief until Monday, when Burns new mayor, Landon Mathis, will take office. Mathis said he plans to appoint Paul McCallister as the new chief of police.
Mathis said by phone he had wanted to hire McCallister prior to the text messages surfacing, but decided not to after talking to some of the commissioners.
According to Mathis, he heard of other alleged inappropriate activity by Sturgill and warned him that any further inappropriate acts could cost him his job.
Commissioner Chris Holland had supported Sturgill keeping his job as police chief prior to the text messages coming to light.
He described Sturgill as a good police officer who did good things for the Burns Police Department.
"It is sad to see it has turned out this way," he said by phone on Thursday.
Anderson is due in Dickson County Court December 14 for his arrest. He was released on $3,000 bond from the Dickson County jail.