I-Team: Claims of sexual harassment plague Nye Co. Sheriff's race
Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo.
Rick Marshall's photograph following his arrest.
Mark Medina Photo credit: Parhrump Valley Times
LAS VEGAS -- The sheriff's race in neighboring Nye County is heating up with the recent arrest of one of the leading candidates and new allegations of sexual harassment within the department.
A number of the department's employees, represented by their union, accuse their supervisors of sexual harassment and creating a hostile work environment. The sheriff tells the I-Team the claims are the union's effort to take over the department. Nye County voters now have to decide who they believe.
Election season in Nye County is unusually eventful. In late April, Assistant Sheriff Rick Marshall was arrested while campaigning for the top job. A detective says a Pahrump resident caught Marshall on camera stealing opponent's yard signs and then resisting arrest.
Separately, four sheriff's department employees claim they were sexually harassed by their supervisors, including Marshall. The Nye County Law Enforcement Association filed official complaints with county human resources. One sheriff's department employee agreed to speak to the I-Team on condition of anonymity.
"It's everywhere in the sheriff's office. From the assistant sheriff, the lieutenant, comments made to belittle women. Comments made about women's anatomy, sexual acts," the employee said. "Telling jokes that belittle women such as why are wedding dresses white, because they match the appliances. Why you don't have to buy your wife a watch? Because there's a clock on the stove. Why don't women need to wear shoes in the kitchen? Because it gets them closer to the stove."
"I don't tolerate sexual harassment," outgoing Nye County Sheriff Tony DeMeo said. "If there's an atmosphere of harassment, it's not from me or anybody else in administration."
DeMeo says Nye County contracted out a Reno-based HR firm to investigate claims of sexual harassment. He says an independent review determined there were no grounds for discipline for Assistant Sheriff Marshall. The review on Lieutenant Mark Medina, who is also accused of sexual harassment, is kept confidential, according to the sheriff.
The I-Team was not provided with copies of those reports.
"Assistant Sheriff Marshall is in charge of internal affairs and up until recently Lt. Medina was the internal affairs sergeant who was responsible for doing the internal affairs investigations and providing them directly to Rick Marshall," said the employee who wishes to remain anonymous.
The I-Team reached out to Marshall's campaign manager. They did not respond to requests for comment. The other supervisor mentioned, Medina, was investigated in 1992 by police for allegedly raping a co-worker in his own squad car. According to a Santa Barbara County sheriff's spokesperson, Medina "left" his job before the investigation was completed. Criminal charges were never filed against Medina. Prosecutors believed the alleged victim's testimony was not enough to convince a jury. Medina told the I-Team he would not comment on the rape accusations.
The I-Team spoke with the woman who accused Medina of rape. She stands by her account more than 20 years later. The I-Team also learned that all seven Nye County sheriffs deputies involved in the arrest of their own boss, Assistant Sheriff Marshall, are not on the streets. One of them told the I-Team, they're taking working comp leave because they believe Marshall created a hostile working environment after his arrest. Those seven deputies are a large portion of Pahrump's already small police force.
Monday, September 1 2014 6:06 PM EDT2014-09-01 22:06:07 GMT
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