Τετάρτη, 13 Φεβρουαρίου 2008

NEVADA-USA

Officials weigh Del Vecchio's future as Family Court judge

The Family Court judge accused of making a 14-year-old girl perform oral sex on him and years later coercing her into a sexual relationship remained on the bench Monday as court officials considered his future.
Court officials talked about taking away the caseload of Nicholas Del Vecchio but haven't made any decisions, said Chuck Short, county court administrator.
The court doesn't have the authority to remove Del Vecchio. Only the Nevada Judicial Discipline Commission can remove or suspend a sitting judge.
"We have very little authority to act," he said.
Chief Judge Kathy Hardcastle can take away his cases and the Nevada Supreme Court can assign those cases to a senior judge, Short said. Court officials would reassign Del Vecchio's cases if the allegations against him began to cause a disruption at Family Court, he said.
Del Vecchio was elected to the Family Court bench in 2000 after seven unsuccessful attempts. He hears mostly divorce and custody cases.
Del Vecchio is up for re-election in 2008. He has drawn three opponents, including attorney Cynthia Giuliani.
"How he can remain on the bench is beyond reason because of the seriousness of the allegations," Giuliani said Monday.
The special prosecutor for the Judicial Discipline Commission on Friday accused Del Vecchio of wide-ranging sexual misconduct. The prosecutor, Mary Boetsch, accused Del Vecchio in a 38-count civil complaint of having sex with his ex-wife's 14-year-old daughter in the early 1990s. He is also accused of taking nude photos of the girl when she was between the ages of 14 and 16.
About a decade later, that same girl, then in her 20s and identified as Rebeccah Murray, began working as a judicial assistant for Del Vecchio. She accused Del Vecchio of coercing her to have sex with him and making audio recordings of the encounters without her permission.
A bailiff and other court staff also accused the judge of making inappropriate sexual and racial remarks, the complaint states. He is also accused of using his position to get free lunches and airline tickets.
Del Vecchio declined requests for interviews on Monday. He previously denied that he had any sexual relationship with Murray, now 29. He said he was innocent of all the accusations.
Authorities are not filing criminal charges against Del Vecchio because the statute of limitations has run out.
Under Nevada law, sexual contact complaints must be filed by the time the victim is 21. If victims don't realize they were sexually assaulted as a child until after they are 21, they can file a complaint before turning 28.
The case came to light in the spring of 2006 when court employees reported that Del Vecchio was acting inappropriately in the workplace, Short said.
The court temporarily re-assigned the employees and the county's Office of Diversity began investigating the allegations.
The diversity office investigates workplace sexual, religious and racial harassment. It investigated Del Vecchio for three months and handed over its findings to the Judicial Discipline Commission in July 2006.
David Sarnowski, executive director of the Judicial Discipline Commission, declined to comment on the length of the investigation. He wouldn't discuss whether the commission will try to remove Del Vecchio from the bench.
He said Del Vecchio has 20 days to respond to the complaint and the commission could hold a hearing within 60 days of Del Vecchio receiving the complaint.
Contact reporter David Kihara at (702) 380-1039 or dkihara@reviewjournal.com.
Contact reporter David Kihara at dkihara@reviewjournal.com or (702) 380-1039.

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