News & Politics

Court Officer Sexually Assaults Woman in Court, Arrests Her When Everyone in Court Ignores Her Pleas for Help

The Clark County family court is under heavy scrutiny after a video showed a woman who said she was sexually assaulted being arrested.

Employees from Clark County family court in Nevada are under investigation for covering up an alleged sexual assault by a court officer, according to KLAS-TV, a CBS affiliate.

An internal affairs investigation has also revealed larger problems at the court, like more allegations of sexual assault and violence.

The story KLAS-TV focuses in on is what happened to Monica Contreras. The mother of a two-year-old daughter went to family court in August 2011 on a routine divorce case. Her husband didn’t show up, and so his request for a temporary restraining order was denied.

Things went downhill for Contreras from there, and there’s video to prove it. Court officer Ron Fox told Contreras she needed to be searched for drugs. According to Contreras and an internal investigation that verified her story, Fox touched her breasts and ordered her shirt to be lifted up. Contreras then went to the hearing master, Patricia Donninger, to tell her that Contreras’ requests for a female officer to conduct the search were ignored.

A second officer then begins to arrest Contreras. Fox says that it was because Contreras made “false allegations.” The news outlet notes that they could not find a “law that would support the arrest. It is also highly unlikely a sexual assault victim would be placed under arrest by the alleged assaulter.”

Meanwhile, the hearing master was looking away while Contreras was pleading with her to pay attention to what was happening to her. “How can you do this to me? How can you watch?” she asks.

The court lieutenant did not inform anyone about the alleged sexual assault.

Two months after the arrest, Contreras filed a complaint, and an internal affairs investigation got underway. But eventually, Fox was fired, though he maintains his innocence. His attorney said the arrest of Contreras was legal because nobody in the court tried to halt his actions.

But nobody informed Contreras about the investigation, Fox’s firing or that her claims were verified. The news outlet had to do that.

The internal investigation isn’t over yet. KLAS-TV reports: “Clark County courts are widening their investigation into why this incident, and a growing number of assault allegations, were never reported by family court management to internal affairs.”

 

Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.