Nev. gov sued for allegedly rape threat

October 15, 2008 5:37:58 AM PDT
Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons was sued in federal court by a woman who claimed he made advances and threatened to rape her after having drinks at a Las Vegas restaurant just before the 2006 election. The lawsuit filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Nevada by an attorney for Chrissy Mazzeo accuses Gibbons of battery, false imprisonment and second-degree kidnapping, as well as lying about the incident later.

The first-term Republican governor has denied any wrongdoing. The lawsuit comes two years and one day after the alleged incident.

Mazzeo, 34, who worked as a cocktail waitress in Las Vegas and has since moved to Southern California, alleged that Gibbons pushed her against a wall in a parking garage and propositioned her for sex not far from the restaurant where the two had been drinking with a group on the night of Oct. 13, 2006.

The lawsuit filed by Las Vegas attorney Robert Kossack detailed the alleged parking lot exchange between Mazzeo and Gibbons and quoted Gibbons as telling Mazzeo: "I'm going to rape you."

The suit said Mazzeo resisted, asked if Gibbons was serious and quoted him as replying, "This isn't what I want from you. You have two choices. You can try to run away or you can let this happen."

Gibbons spokesman Ben Kieckhefer said he didn't have any immediate comment on the lawsuit. He said he was trying to contact legal counsel for the governor to "coordinate a response." Until that's done, Kieckhefer said he didn't want to speculate or say something "that is out of the bounds of what's proper." Gibbons was in Washington, D.C., for meetings with Interior Department officials.

A state investigation into the incident was closed because Clark County District Attorney David Roger said there was insufficient evidence to prove criminal charges against Gibbons "beyond a reasonable doubt."

Mazzeo's suit also accuses longtime political operative Sig Rogich, Mazzeo's former friend Pennie Mossett-Puhek, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, former Metro Police Chief Bill Young and former Gibbons attorney Don Campbell of conspiring to cover up the case.

The suit also alleges that the defendants slandered Mazzeo and conspired to obstruct justice in the case. It seeks unspecified damages in excess of $10,000.

Kossack made a package of materials available to reporters, which included photos of Mazzeo allegedly taken hours after the incident that he says show bruising and scratches.

Gibbons, 63, filed for divorce in May, citing incompatibility after some 22 years of marriage. Dawn Gibbons, 54, accused the governor of being involved with another woman. Gibbons has denied having other romantic involvements.

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Associated Press writer Brendan Riley in Carson City contributed to this report.


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