WASHINGTON, June 14, 2013 – A disturbing video clip surfaced earlier this week of Las Vegas court marshals arresting a young mother for accusing one of them of sexual assault as the hearing master (judge) ignores her.
Even more disturbing, the hearing master is a woman and all this happened in front of the victim’s two-year-old daughter. And that’s not all: apparently this is not an isolated incident. (See video below)
Monica Contreras, 28, was in Clark County family court finalizing her divorce. A restraining order against her had been filed by the husband. That was order denied as the husband failed to appear.
After the minutes-long hearing ended, court marshal Ron Fox ordered her into a waiting room for a drug search. There was no apparent reason for this action by the marshal.
Against any standard protocol in any authoritian situation anywhere, Fox took Contreras into the waiting room alone, clsoing the door and allegedly touching her breasts, buttocks and ordering her to lift her shirt. A later internal investigation validated Contreras’ claims.
“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,” while Doninger completely ignores her and does not even respond to Contreras’ request.
At this time Fox and another marshal, James Kenyon, begin to handcuff and arrest her. Contreras can be heard asking, “For what, sir?”
Fox’s answer: “false allegations against a police officer,” which is not a law in Clark County. What is irregular is for a police officer accused of sexual assault to arrest the accuser.
Contreras is finally bullied into saying that “it was all lies,” but Fox tells her the only way to avoid arrest is to step up to the microphone and recant her accusation. However, when she steps up to the microphone, Contreras stands her ground and says, “he asked me to lift up my shirt without a witness,” at which point Fox handcuffs her.
Contreras pleaded with hearing master Patricia Doninger for over four minutes while Doninger ignored her and pretended to play with Contreras’ two-year-old daughter.
Donninger turned in her seat and didn’t even look at Contreras as the young mother becomes increasingly agitated. “How could you watch?” Contreras asks Doninger at one point.
The little girl walks up as her mother is put in handcuffs and says to Fox, “That’s my mom! Leave her alone.”
It is disturbing to watch.
Contreras was sent to jail and her daughter was taken to Child Haven. Contreras filed a complaint with the Court Marshal Internal Affairs, and after a six- month investigation Fox was fired. Nobody in Court Marshal Internal Affairs bothered to notify Contreras, who was told recently by KLAS-TV.
While some consider her just as culpable as Fox, Patricia Doninger, the hearing marshal, is still in her post in Las Vegas Family Court. Many ask themselves the same question Contreras asked her on the video: how could she just watch while all of this happened in her courtroom?
Many are calling for Doninger’s removal from the bench, and the comments on LawyerRatingz from before this incident say a lot about her record and her treatment of sexual assault and other victims.
Fox still claims that he is innocent and is suing Clark County for wrongful termination. His suit claims that the arrest of Contreras was legal because nobody in the courtroom tried to stop him.
The incident has sparked a wider investigation involving several court marshals on allegations ranging from sexual assault to chocking a person in court.
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