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Pahrump Mirror
Pahrump, Nevada
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January 2, 1997     Pahrump Mirror
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January 2, 1997
 

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20 Thursday, January 2, 1997 Pahrump Valley Gazette Nicholson memo sheds light on scandal Continued from front page has been made fully aware of the reasoning behind her termination and her contention that Beckett never informed her of his justification is apparently false in fact if not in deed Nicholson expressed knowledge that Beckett informed the commissio.qers, one or all, that "I have involved myself in the sexual harassment cases, contrary to his directions, by preparing the payment vouch- ers for counseling services ex- tended to one of the alleged victims." Nicholson also states Beckett informed the commis- sioners she was an "at will" employee and"therefore, could be terminated without adher- ence to any of the County's disciplinary policies and pro- cedures." In her memo, Nicholson claims Beckett ordered her to "turn over all the paperwork regarding the sexual harassment claims which had been filed with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission CNERC") and was to have no further involve- ment in those claims or any litigation stemming from those claims." Nicholson further writes that "Mr. Beckett purport- edly removed me from involvement due to his determination that 1 had 'a conflict,'" (with the Offutt claims). Nicholson asserts in her memo that outside insurance pool counsel, Tom Beko. has determined she did not have a conflict. However, ifBeko did indeed determine Nicholson did not have a conflict, that determination had to have been made prior to her being named a defendant in the Offutt lawsuit. Once she was named, there wa no question as to whether or not a conflict exists. Nicholson, in her memo, has informed the commissioners of her involvement with the alleged victims alter Beckett's directions to exclude herself from matters dealing with the lawsuit. While Nicholson's version of her involvement with the victims does appear to be extremely limited and possibly unavoidable on Nicholson's part, avoiding the appearance of impropriety is just as important as engaging in improprieties for lawyers, who are held to a higher standard due to their status as Officers of the Court. The law is very specific in these matters. At this time, it would be inappropriate to make public Nicholson's involvement with the alleged victims, but one admission ap- pears to be extremely incriminating and in- validates the commissioners representations that they were unaware of Offutt's propen- sity to sexually harass and abuse female employees of Nye County. Nicholson admits to being subjected to sexual harassment herself from former county manager Offutt, "While it is true that I formally waived any right to seek remedy for the sexual harassment I experienced at the hands of Bill Offutt, I have not and will not relinquish any rights I may have arising from Mr. Beckett's or (recently deceased) Mr. (Tom) Cochrane's unlawful retaliation against me for being one of the victims or my actions taken to stop the harassment." Nicholson's contention that she "took ac- tions to stop the harassment" is vigorously refuted in the federal lawsuit filed by the named victims. Even more suspect is Nicholson's written admission that she too suffered sexual harassment by Offutt, yet is quoted in another newspaper when the law- suits were filed as stating the victims had "dollar signs" in their eyes. The allegations in the federal sexual harassment lawsuit are particularly serious regarding Nicholson's involvement. In particular, in light of Nicholson's admission she was victimized by Offutt, are the comments made on page eight, in pertinent part as follows: Nicholson is alleged to have been aware of Offutt's con- duct... "(S)ince April of 1994 at the latest, but did nothing to prevent, discourage, report or mitigate it, and as a result, the sexual harassment and emotional abuse by Offutt contin- ued..." Of further interest addressed in the Complaint regards the named defendants, specifically, Nicholson and the commis- sioners failure to act on the known sexual harassment perpe- trated by Offutt, "Said omission on the part of the named County Commissioners and Nicholson was made in con- scious disregard of the clearly established right of (alleged victim) and others to be free from sexual harassment and intimidation in the workplace. Defendant Nicholson, in her failure to act on the knowledge, is not shielded by prosecutodal immunity, since the knowledge did not come to her, and her decision not to act on it was not made, in connection with a contemplated or potential prosecution of a criminal case, and Call 24 Hours 727-1888 Cremation Direct Burial from ao00 of00, Ceaii 1 Permits, , rninimtm Urn, FuUy Licemed P.O. x 6000. Suite 96. I161S. Loop P,d. #2 p00mp, 00ada ................................................ i 0q:. r.ip: . WllwwealomuolIIIOIBImmIIImIlIIOlallIII Ila!IIII @ because Nicholson used the information concerning Offutt's sexual harassment for her own personal gain." Ironically, in Beckett's for- mal Opinion regarding Nicholson's continued em- ployment with the county, an Opinion he researched and wrote at the request of former District 3 Commissioner Jeff Taguchi, the District Attor- ney suggests the Nye County "...the sexual harassment I experienced at the hands of Bill Offutt. .. " I Commission hired Nicholson and ordered the doctoring or altered documents themselves, "for their own personal gain." There is a trail to follow which suggests Nicholson in- duced the commissioners, under duress or not, to create her unnecessary job in order to avoid not only a lawsuit filed by Nicholson, but to prevent Nicholson's validating the other claims filed by the plaintiffs in the Offutt lawsuit. While admitting there was improper contact between Nicholson and the plaintiffs, Nicholson writes, "I vehemently deny that the above exceedingly limited contacts--most of which happened without any ability on my part to avoid them- -constitute in any manner or form a violation of Mr. Beckett's directives to me or insubordination." The special assistant maintains that these "exceedingly limited contacts" does not constitute "cause" for her dismissal. It is interesting to note that Nicholson! informed the board, in her memo, that the [ should be aware that, "Mr. Beckett's actions are alarmingly coincidental to the Nye County Democratic Central Committee's decision not to nominate Robert Revert for the District 3 board vacancy." Nicholson serves as vice-chairman on that committee. The Nye County Democratic Central Com- mittee Chairman, Michael DeLee, Gazette owner Joe Richards, and Revert each ex- pressed an interest in filling the vacancy left by the passing of Bill Copeland. Nicholson informs the commissioners that Richards dropped out of the race and expressed his support for Revert. Nicholson states she did not vote but did indeed serve as acting chairman. Of specific concern in this por- tion of the broad memo is the following allegation: "I have been informed that Mr. Revert openly stated to those leaving the meeting that I would be fired within two weeks." In a telephone interview with Revert regarding this allegation, the new District 3 Commissioner adamantly denies Nicholson's allegation. "I never said such a thing," said Revert, adding, "I had no information she was going to be fired. In fact, at that time I had no idea what was going on " Revert admits tO'having made a eOmplaintregding Nicholson's involvement in the election, "My only com- plaint is that Rachel never should have been involved in that election. She's a public official. It's my opinion she talked members of the committee into voting against me." As far as Revert's having knowledge of the pending termination, the Beatty businessman stated, "I haven't spo- ken to the D.A. for six months prior to the election, or any members of his staff. In fact, I never talked to him (Beckett) until I was elected in November." Nicholson also alleges she was fired for her interpreta- tion of Nevada Brothel Ordinances. Specifically, whether or not 18-year-olds can work in and visit brothels. How this could possibly tie in with her termination is unknown at this time. Nicholson concludes her memorandum with the hope the contents "clarify" matters for the commissioners. Interest- ingly, regarding the commissioners decision to create her previously non-existent, unnecessary position, Nieholson acknowledges the commissioners were aware the decision "would or could jeopardize your chances of being reelected to office." Finally, Nicholson's final sentence in her memo suggests the possibility the commissioners were threatened with a lawsuit if they denied her the $I00,000 a year position, "Based upon the Board's decision to continue my uninter- rupted employment with the County, I am not seeking remedy under NItS 245.065." Of special interest in Nicholson's final comment is that NRS 245.065 deals specifically with the grievance she, recently filed against Beckett. " ] Since there has been no break in Nicholson's employ- ! Bishop Veterinary Hospital 00I'onopah Clinic00 if,tOr. Lind win be in Tonopt January 8' 1996  l " Front down stairs o/r/c@, - 42 Belmont St. appointmentsnfo, Call 482-6458 after 5 p.m. Dr. Lind wi// l /17 ever3' other Wednesday 8 a.m. - I p.m.: Dogs cats and other small animals, including spays, neutering, dentisto; minor surgery, etc. 1:30 p,m,. 3:30 p.m.: Horses, cows, etc.  NIGHT CLINIC Tonopah 5.'30 p.m to 7:30 p.m. Round Mountain: 3:30p.m. to 4.'30p.m. .... Same dates as Tonopah .Clinic ..... high priced contract that was above your budget. Call and talkto our professional sales staff. We will tailor an advertising program to fit yourneed 7"27-5583 ment, it is unclear why the controversial special assis- tam would reverse herself regarding her commitment to the commissioners. However, as reported last week; the grievance meet- ing did not occur due to the obvious conflicts of interest. Beckett's Opinion will be sent to Attorney General Frankie Sue Del Papa. It is possible this controversial matter will create the need to impanel a grand jury if Del Papa's Office concludes the necessity to do so. The Gazette will report . . m.oreon this matteras more , facts develop