I know I am just a common ordinary woman in Kearney Nebraska, so my story does not seem news worthy.
In 2005 I was employed as the Development Coordinator for the Buffalo County Economic Development Council. My boss was a man named Ron Tillery. When I took the job five years earlier I was told to be careful, one of the men in the office was a “toucher”. One of my advisors was my husband who did computer work in the building. No bug deal, was an equal opportunity toucher – he touched everyone, so no worries.
The man I should have be concerned with was Mr. Tillery. Beginning in 2004, he began to use to company credit card for personal expenses and would submit fictitious receipts for reimbursement. I became uncomfortable and told him I would not longer sign the checks (that was part of my job) for these expenditures without approval. He told the board I was being difficult and asked the treasurer to begin signing the checks. While still not comfortable, at least my signature was not on the checks. Soon after he began asking me to lunch and coffee appointments away from the office so we could “strategize”. This would have been fine, except the conversations became very personal. When I told him I was not comfortable, he confessed that he loved me. I told him the feelings were not mutual, he was my employer and that was the only relationship i wanted with him. Almost instantly my work environment changed and I knew it was only a matter of time before I would be out of a job.
I told a board member I trusted, who was shocked to say the least. He informed other board members and told me it would be ok. I met with our accounting team who told me they would be requesting an audit of the books and not to worry. In the interim I was offered what I thought was a perfect job, so I tendered my resignation. As soon as my resignation was tendered, I found out that my reputation was begin smeared by board members including the city manager. Rumors were being spread that I was attempting to take him down because of a broken romance. Within a year Mr. Tillery also tendered his resignation, it was verified by the audit that he was using council funds for personal use, and I was asked by a friend who was a reporter if I was fired because of my accusations. I admitted that I was not fired, however I knew my reputation had been smeared.
Professionally, my new job fell through and I no longer had my old job. Fortunately a friend reached out to me for a contract position and I thought I would be ok. Fast forward to today. I seem to have a reputation on this community as untrustworthy and a homewrecker, and I can only attribute it to the fact the Mr. Tillery has returned to the area and is once again ingratiated himself into the good ole boy network.
Long story, but the point is – why are women still paying the price for being honest and saying no. Both Mr. Tillery and I were married. I understand his marriage was on the rocks at the time and he may have been looking for love, but my no should have been accepted as just that. And my career both then and now should not have been threatened. I know I am not the only female who left his employee after inappropriate activities. I wonder sometimes how many of us there are..
Thank you for providing an outlet for my story.
— Survivor, age 50