According to the Reno Gazette-Journal, a press conference that lasted less than three minutes Thursday, top city officials said they take a former employee’s claims she was sexually assaulted by a co-worker seriously but refused to answer any questions about the city’s handling of the incident.
The press conference was called in response to a Reno Gazette Journal story that detailed allegations from a former contract employee that the city cut short her employment when she complained a coworker sexually assaulted her. Her alleged attacker was allowed to resign without facing discipline.
In court documents filed as part of a separate lawsuit against the city, the woman said former revitalization manager Bill Dunne sexually harassed her, making lewd comments and grabbing her breasts. The behavior culminated when he trapped her in his car, exposed himself and demanded she perform a sex act.
Reno Mayor Hillary Schieve said during the press conference that she only learned of the woman’s allegations on Wednesday, the day the RGJ story ran. Councilwoman Neoma Jardon also said she was unaware of the incident.
“Last night I was made aware of sexual assault allegations and I want to make sure that our residents know that we take this extremely seriously at the city of Reno,” Schieve said.
The mayor seems pretty clueless.
Last week, Soto confirmed that his department did not conduct any investigation into the woman’s allegations. Instead, Reno City Attorney Karl Hall initiated an investigation by an independent third party and the city handled the matter as a personnel issue.
In the court documents, the woman said she was too embarrassed and afraid to file a police report.
Details of the woman’s allegations were revealed in court documents filed Monday as part of a lawsuit filed by Deanna Gescheider and Maureen McKissick, which claims the city did not protect them from retaliation after they submitted misconduct complaints against former City Manager Andrew Clinger.
The woman, who the Reno Gazette Journal is not naming because she may be the victim of a sexual assault, said she believes the city tried to cover up Dunne’s conduct because of the pending lawsuit by Gescheider and McKissick. Dunne was also accused of threatening Gescheider and making an inappropriate comment to her in that lawsuit.
Transparency and ensuring women’s safety in the workplace clearly are not priorities for Reno.