A disturbing video is making its way around social media today. It’s a six-minute family court video from August 2011 of a woman who complains that a marshal sexually assaulted her in a back room. The woman becomes increasingly agitated as the marshal, who is in the courtroom, then arrests her for “making false allegations about a police officer,” all while the magistrate plays with the woman’s child, at least until the child begs the arresting officer to not take her momma away.
It’s really tough to watch. Even I became emotional while watching the clip. And the marshal has since been dismissed. Most of the internet outrage is focused on the cop. Me, I can honestly say that after watching this I wish nothing but the absolute worst for Clark County Hearings Master Patricia Doninger. I think I’d rather see Edith Jones on the Supreme freaking Court than have this person “preside” over a game of Family Feud, much less be within shouting distance of a family court…
The video is safe for work, but again feels more like a snuff film than a courtroom video. You’re watching a helpless person get violated by the system in real time:
KLAS-TV, which broke the story, describes what happened. A woman named Monica Contreras was in court with her daughter trying to vacate a temporary restraining order her ex-husband had sought to obtain. He didn’t show, and the order was denied, but here’s what happened next:
According to internal court documents, as Contreras was leaving, family court marshal Ron Fox ordered her into a waiting room for an unexplained drug search.
Contreras said Fox touched her buttocks, breast, and ordered her to lift up her shirt. A later internal investigation by Clark County courts validated her claims. Contreras went back into the same courtroom and told hearing master Patricia Donninger that her requests to have a female marshal handle the search were ignored.
Hearing Master Doninger won’t even look at Contreras. You can see it on the tape. During some of her complaints, Doninger is playing with Contreras’s daughter.
Then Fox decides to arrest her for “making false allegations about a police officer,” which is not a crime that anybody can find. Doninger does nothing. In fact, she physically turns her chair away from Contreras, as she doesn’t want to see the horror she is allowing to take place.
KLAS didn’t obtain the video until March 2013, though Contreras had filed a complaint with internal affairs sometime before that. Contreras filed a lawsuit in April, and Gawker posted the video today, which is why everybody knows about it now.
But it also means that Doninger has been sitting on the bench for almost two years since this incident, with no investigation, review, or punishment for her disgraceful behavior caught on video.
What kind of system are we running here? I get that bad people slip through the cracks. But it’s been two years and Doninger, this magistrate who literally turned her back on a woman who was molested in her own courtroom, still has a job?
Could we at least get somebody sitting in her courtroom tomorrow to make sure Doninger isn’t looking away as people are violated right in front of her?