Las Vegas Court Officials Accused Of Covering Up Sex Assault [VIDEO]
It all began two years ago, when Monica Contreras (pictured above, on the right), then 26, claimed that Fox (pictured at front left) "touched her buttocks, breast and ordered her to lift up her shirt," according to Las Vegas station KLAS-TV. Then Fox allegedly retaliated by arresting her on a bogus charge -- making false allegations against a police officer -- news accounts say. Fox reportedly was fired as a result.
Contreras initially had been called into the family court in August 2011 after her estranged husband filed for a temporary restraining order against her during their divorce. But just a few minutes into her hearing, Contreras was asked to take a drug test in a waiting room without being given an explanation, said KLAS-TV. (The station recently uncovered the security video of her appearance.) And it was while Contreras was in the waiting room that, she says, Fox assaulted her -- as described by her to court magistrate Patricia Doninger in a squirm-inducing breakdown. Gossip website Gawker has said the footage will give you "nightmares."
Contreras tried to tell her story over tears after returning to the courtroom. The court workers, however, don't appear in the security video to be very moved. Doninger can be seen playing with Contreras' daughter, who was present for the hearing. In fact, Contreras soon found herself under arrest. The charge? "False allegations made against a police officer," according to Court Marshal James Kenyon (pictured back left), who assisted in the arrest. Yet no such crime exists, as a federal appeals court has affirmed.
The incident was unpublicized for two years -- it only became public because KLAS obtained the video in March and broadcast it. (Clark is currently suing the county for wrongful termination in district court. His rationale? No one present chose to "intervene" in his actions, as his court papers appear to accurately say.)
The county's internal affairs division didn't learn of the incident until Contreras filed a report two months after her day in court. According to KLAS, the division was "shocked" that they hadn't heard of it directly from Family Court Lt. Steve Rushfield. The internal affairs division subsequently conducted a six-month investigation into the incident. Once it completed the report, Clark County fired Fox.
Las Vegas Review-Journal said. But the court magistrate, Doninger, appears to have been unscathed by it, much to the horror of some observers. The legal blog AboveTheLaw noted, "It's been two years and Doninger, this magistrate who literally turned her back on a woman who was molested in her own courtroom, still has a job?"
Now that the video has become public, Clark County has announced that it will continue the investigation, examining "a growing number of assault allegations" that were never reported by the family courts to the county's Internal Affairs division.
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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