Las Vegas Sun

July 29, 2014

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Capitol Police officers accused of sexual harassment in lawsuit

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Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

The Nevada State Capitol building is seen Monday, February 7, 2011 in Carson City.

A Hispanic female officer of the Capitol Police filed a lawsuit today, saying she was the target of sexual harassment and age discrimination.

Alice Valdez, who is over age 40, listed five male officers as defendants, saying she was treated differently than her male counterparts. When she complained to her superiors, no action was taken.

Gov. Brian Sandoval confirmed last week that he asked for an investigation of the police but declined to say why. And five or six officers have been placed on administrative leave with pay while the investigation is underway.

The complaint filed by Reno lawyer Jeffrey Dickerson says, “According to a recent story in the Las Vegas Sun, Gov. Sandoval had knowledge of the harassment and ordered an investigation. Whether this was independent of the plaintiff’s complaint is not known.”

The male officers, according to the complaint filed in district court, suggested she could not do her job because she was a woman. She said one officer, Chris Aranyos, made comments last December about having sex with her. The complaint quotes him as saying that if it was the end of the world; he “would bend you over the desk and do you right here.”

In another instance, the suit said Aranyos rubbed up against her in a “sexual manner” referring to “her body in a lascivious manner.”

The suit says the sexual harassment Valdez has experienced “has been observed by other officers, gubernatorial staff, other state employees as well as the public.”

Officers not only questioned whether she could do the job as a woman and also whether her age hindered her performance. Others made sexual comments that she should have chosen another career such as being a “stay-at-home mom” or maybe she should look for a job at McDonald’s.

Valdez said in the lawsuit that she is one of four women on the force. She said another woman has experienced discrimination, also, “yet a female officer who is a white female in her 20s has received favoritism.”

Valdez said in the lawsuit that she doesn’t know if disciplinary action has been taken and she “fears retaliation and continued discrimination in the workplace.” Her duty station has been moved from the governor’s mansion to the attorney general’s office.

Other officers named in the suit are William Walker, Christian Normandy, Ed “Mike” Rubio and Richard Mraz. The Department of Public Safety, which supervises the Capitol Police, is also a defendant.

The suit seeks damages against the officers and the department, claiming Valdez has suffered “a severe and pervasive hostile and abusive working environment because of her sex/gender, race and age.”

The force is charged with protecting the safety of the Capitol, which houses the offices of state elected officials, including the governor. It is assigned to the governor’s mansion, the attorney general’s office and patrolling other state buildings.

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