The Veterans’ Affairs Department has suspended three leaders within its the Atlanta VA Medical Center police department amid allegations of sexual harassment.

The Veterans’ Affairs Department has suspended three leaders within its the Atlanta VA Medical Center police department amid allegations of sexual harassment. ALASTAIR PIKE / Getty Images

House committee chair applauds suspension of three top VA cops amid harassment allegations

House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs Chairman Mike Bost, R-Ill., said in a statement that whistleblowers at the Atlanta VA Medical Center informed the committee of claims of sexual harassment, retaliation and misconduct within the center’s police department. 

The chairman of the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs is applauding the department’s move to suspend three police officers at the Atlanta VA Medical Center following allegations of sexual harassment, retaliation and other actions directed against employees. 

“Men and women who commit or allow environments of any form of harassment and misconduct – especially sexual harassment – have no place serving our nation’s veterans,” said Chairman Mike Bost, R-Ill., in a statement. “I am pleased to see the department finally take action at the Atlanta VA to stop this alleged harassment and hold those individuals accountable who allowed it to persist for far too long. My oversight team rightfully listened to these whistleblowers when they came to Congress for help, but I have said it before and I will say it again, VA’s own employees should not feel that they must come to Congress for action against toxic leaders to be taken.”

Bost said that the committee’s oversight team visited whistleblowers in Atlanta in December following complaints of sexual harassment, retaliation and misconduct within the Atlanta VAMC police department that were filed in the whistleblower portal.

Those teams continued to meet with the whistleblowers over the next few months, culminating in a May 3 letter from the committee to VA Secretary Denis McDonough that called for information from any internal department investigations into three leaders of the Atlanta VAMC police department. 

The names were redacted in the letter, but other outlets reported that the officers were Police Chief Beverly Banks, Deputy Chief of Police Johnnie McCullor and an unnamed police major.

According to those reports, McCullor was accused of sexual harassment two years ago and was investigated by the VA’s internal affairs office, but was not removed from his position. 

An Atlanta news outlet goes on to allege that McCullor exposed himself to an employee and offered to get her a job with a private security company used by the Atlanta VA in exchange for sexual favors. 

Before filing an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint against McCullor, the employee claimed she inadvertently texted him, “Snakes only get so far,” in January 2022, thinking she was messaging a friend. 

The employee claimed in her April 2022 EEO complaint that he asked her superior officer to fire her. She was later demoted and transferred before later being fired for not showing up to work with the private security company.

The Atlanta news outlet obtained the VA’s Office of Senior Security Officer's investigation into the allegations through a Freedom of Information Act request. Its findings showed that “McCullor ‘admitted to special agents that he gave Jackson money, texted her outside of working hours… [because] he wanted to help Jackson as a single parent, a statement investigators find not credible,’” and that “‘investigators did draw certain conclusions that would support Jackson’s reports as being accurate and truthful.’”

The suspensions come after the department has already received blistering scrutiny from Bost and the committee over allegations of sexual harassment within its Office of Resolution Management, Diversity & Inclusion, which investigates harassment claims. 

As a result of those investigations, House members introduced legislation that would permanently introduce into the personnel records the results of any investigation into alleged wrongdoing against those staff members.