Monica Contreras was finalizing a divorce case in August 2011, when a court marshal suddenly searched her for drugs in a private room. She claims that the marshal sexually assaulted her during the search, and video of the incident shows the judge ignoring her complaints and her subsequent arrest on false pretenses. In the almost two years since the incident occurred, Contreras has filed a complaint against Clark County family court, and little was done, but the recent release of video footage of the incident is leading to a wider investigation into the incident on suspicion of covering up the assault.
Video footage taken from inside the court room and obtained by Las Vegas CBS affiliate KLAS shows Contreras, in the family courtroom with her two-year old daughter, attempting to finalize her divorce. Suddenly, court marshal Ron Fox tells her she needs to be searched for drugs and takes her to a waiting room.
Contreras returns to the courtroom, where she tells presiding judge Patricia Donninger, “I think I’d rather have a female in here and he went anyway. I was just offended by it. I’m offended that he asked me.” Contreras alleged that after Fox touched her buttocks and breast, he then ordered her to lift up her shirt.
After her assault accusations are ignored by Donninger, who is playing with Contreras’ daughter in the video, another marshal begins to arrest Contreras. When Contreras asks for an explanation as to why she is being arrested, Fox says that she made “false allegations against a police officer,” (which is not a crime in Clark County,) and the marshals attempt to force Contreras to recant her accusations under threat of imprisonment. Contreras refused, and was taken to jail while pleading to Donninger. Contreras’ daughter was taken to child services, and ultimately returned when Contreras was released.
Contreras has since filed a complaint against the court, and Fox was fired from his position but not charged with any crime. He maintains his innocence in the situation, and is currently suing Clark County for wrongful termination. Fox claims that since no one in the courtroom tried to stop him, his arrest was legal.
Speaking with KLAS, Contreras said, “I just hope I did the right thing by telling internal affairs. It makes me feel good because now I know that I was right.”
The video footage has inspired outrage among the media, and several local news outlets have run editorials calling for the firing of Donninger. Clark County courts are expanding their investigation into the incident in an attempt to determine whether other court-related assaults went unreported or were covered up.