PROVO — An officer who police say pulled down his pants in front of female students at Provo High School and made "inappropriate gestures" while wearing only a Speedo and a hoodie was fired Thursday.
Provo police say officer Jonathon Cody Harris violated several department rules of conduct — including sexual harassment — during a birthday celebration for an administrative assistant at the high school May 2.
As many as 10 female students were present during the party and witnessed the incident, Provo police said following an investigation.
At one point, the officer pulled down his pants while kneeling on a table and asked the mix of school employees and students if they "wanted a little cheek with their cake," the police report states.
"We will not tolerate this form of behavior from any city employee, especially from a police officer whose job it is to set that bar, to be above reproach, to be an example," Provo Police Lt. Matt Siufanua said.
Harris had been on administrative leave since the incident.
In a letter dismissing Harris from the Provo Police Department, Chief Rick Gregory called the officer's actions "unbecoming of a police officer" and said they have "adversely affected the work environment at Provo High School."
Harris removed his uniform pants to reveal his Speedo at least four times during the party — actions that were photographed or videotaped by school employees and students, the report states.
"In the course of your behavior, you left several individuals, who rely upon you as a school resource officer to protect them and to watch over them, so uncomfortable that they sought to leave your presence and to remove themselves from your unacceptable and unwanted conduct," Gregory wrote.
According to the police report, Harris had been invited to participate in the birthday party for the school's administrative assistant. He was asked to dress as a frog, as part of the party's theme — "Princess and the Frog."
Days before the party, it was agreed that Harris would wear a green hoodie and sweat pants, the report states. Harris suggested that he also wear a Speedo as part of the costume, though school employees told police they believed he would be wearing the bathing suit over his sweat pants.
The day of the party, Harris was getting dressed in his costume and determined that the "leggings" provided for his costume didn't fit, according to the report. Harris opted to just wear the Speedo.
While the guest of honor was being spun around to play "Kiss the Frog," a game patterned after Pin the Tail on the Donkey in which lips are placed on a poster of a frog, Harris quietly entered the room and took off his pants in front of a group of employees and 10 female students serving as teachers' assistants.
Harris then picked up the female employee and carried her around the room while wearing only the Speedo and hoodie, resulting in two employees leaving the room because they felt uncomfortable, the police report states.
Later, Harris went into Assistant Principal Kyle Bates' office and removed his pants, making a comment like, "Dude, you gotta see this," the report states. The officer then faced the wall and repeatedly flexed his buttocks in front of the assistant principal, according to the report.
Harris then rejoined the party in the conference room, and Principal Jeff Schoonover was present, the report states. Harris again dropped his pants to reveal his Speedo and reached out to hug the principal.
When Schoonover refused the hug, Harris attempted to pursue him with his pants down around his ankles, according to the report. Harris' actions "resulted in the principal announcing the party was over and asking everyone to leave," according to Gregory's letter.
Siufanua said Harris' actions left the department little choice but to dismiss him from the force.
"As we looked at the facts that came to us, we found that his actions were just too egregious for multiple reasons — the audience, the environment, the timing and the repeated behavior of this officer," he said.
Statements from the 10 female students at the party indicate that most of them thought Harris' actions were amusing.
"We all thought it was funny," one student said. "I don't think Cody should be gone. ... We had fun."
"He was walking around the room with his pants down for about 10-20 minutes," another student reported. "I did not feel uncomfortable. Everyone was laughing. It was only a joke, and it shouldn't have been taken this far."
Two of the students, however, said they felt uncomfortable.
"Everyone in the room was laughing for a minute until we actually realized the fact that he only had on a Speedo," one student told police. "After that, I kind of just put my head down since I didn't think it was appropriate."
Attempts to reach Harris for comment were unsuccessful.
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