A major investigation is under way in Las Vegas after a court officer is accusing of sexually molesting a woman, and employees and managers allegedly covered up the assault.
Video has just surfaced of Monica Contreras, who went to family court with her 2-year-old daughter in August 2011.
KLAS-TV reports she was in court for a routine divorce hearing.
“According to internal court documents, as Contreras was leaving, family court marshal Ron Fox ordered her into a waiting room for an unexplained drug search,” the station says.
Contreras claims Fox touched her buttocks and breast, and also ordered her to lift up her shirt.
Clark County courts conducted a later investigation which validated the woman’s allegations.
Contreras went back into the same courtroom to tell hearing master Patricia Donninger that her requests for a female marshal handle the search were ignored.
“I think I’d rather have a female in here and he went anyway. I was just offended by it. I’m just offended that he asked me,” Contreras told Donninger, who did not respond.
The video shows Marshal James Kenyon preparing to arrest Contreras. She can be heard pleading with him.
“For what, sir? Why would I be arrested? Can you please tell me?”
That’s when Fox chimed in, “Because of false allegations made against a police officer.”
KLAS says it could find no law to support the woman’s arrest.
“It is also highly unlikely a sexual assault victim would be placed under arrest by the alleged assaulter,” the station noted.
The marshals repeatedly tried to get Contreras to recant her story, but were unable to, and she broke down.
“Let me go. It was all lies. I don’t want to deal with anything. It was all lies. All lies. All lies. All lies. Please stop,” she said.
Fox told the woman the only way to avoid jail was to recant her allegation at the microphone. Contreras did step up to the microphone, but surprised her alleged assailant.
“You put me in a room. You asked me to lift up my shirt without a witness,” Contreras said into the microphone.
Fox replied, “OK, take her to jail.”
Contreras then pleaded for some four minutes to Donninger, but the hearing master never acknowledged the woman, instead talking and playing with Contreras’ daughter.
“How can you do this to me? How can you watch?” Contreras pleaded.
Her daughter was sent to Child Haven as Contreras was sent to jail, and two months later, the woman filed a complaint with Court Marshal Internal Affairs.
Investigators told KLAS they were shocked they had not heard of the alleged courthouse sexual assault from family court Lt. Steve Rushfield.
After a six-month internal affairs investigation, Fox was fired.
No one from Clark County courts ever told Contreras her claims had been validated, and she only learned that recently from the TV station.
“I just hope I did the right thing by telling internal affairs,” Contreras said. “It makes me feel good because now I know that I was right.”
A statement released by Clark County court administration reads: “Court personnel are prohibited from commenting on the video because it’s a personnel matter. When the actions of any district court employee are called into question, the court immediately responds by conducting a fair, thorough investigation and, upon completion, taking appropriate action.”
Despite the firing of Fox, Clark County courts are now widening their probe into why this incident, and a growing number of assault allegations, were never reported by family court management to internal affairs.
The station notes Fox is maintaining his innocence and is suing Clark County for wrongful termination.
His attorney claims the arrest was legal since no one in the courtroom tried to stop him.