Ex-cocktail waitress settles rape-threat lawsuit against former Gov. Jim Gibbons
LAS VEGAS (AP) — A former Las Vegas Strip cocktail waitress has settled a federal lawsuit that accused former Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons of threatening to rape her after drinks at a restaurant just weeks before his election in November 2006.
Chrissy Mazzeo’s civil-rights case against Gibbons, former Clark County Sheriff Bill Young, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department and Republican political strategist Sig Rogich was dismissed July 12, according to documents filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
Mazzeo is accepting $50,000, said Walter Cannon, the attorney who represented Young and the police department in the lawsuit, filed in October 2008.
Cannon called settling a financial decision. The case had been due for trial later this year, but a date had not been set. Cannon said he felt confident Young and the police department would have prevailed, but a four-week trial would have been expensive.
Cannon said his clients agreed to pay $24,999.
The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that Rogich’s insurance company would pay $25,001.
“I don’t know what happened between Chrissy Mazzeo and the governor,” Cannon said in an interview. “But what happened and what she said happened weren’t the same.”
Rogich issued a statement confirming the $50,000 figure and noting that Mazzeo initially sought “multiple millions” in damages. He also pointed to professional discipline taken against Kossack by the State Bar of Nevada.
“This is a great example of a nuisance lawsuit,” Rogich said.
Kossack told the Review-Journal that a settlement was reached, but declined to provide details. He said it included no confidentiality agreement.
Mazzeo’s lawsuit alleged that Gibbons grabbed and threatened to sexually attack her in a parking garage in October 2006, and that he and the other defendants orchestrated a cover-up of her allegations.
Gibbons, then 61, was a five-term Republican congressman from Northern Nevada. He served one term as governor before becoming the state’s first sitting governor to lose a re-election primary. He and his wife, Dawn, divorced in 2008 after 22 years of marriage.
Mazzeo, then 32, was a single mother who worked as a waitress at the Bellagio resort. She later moved to Southern California.
According to police reports, the two had been drinking separately with friends at the restaurant until Gibbons invited Mazzeo and her friend, Pennie Mossett-Puhek, to join a table where he was with Rogich and others.
Mazzeo alleged that Gibbons put his hand on her knee and followed her to the parking garage, where he grabbed her and instructed her not to resist.
That didn’t happen, according to Gibbons. He said he was walking Mazzeo to her car and held her arm when she tripped and fell.
Mazzeo filed a police report, then dropped the complaint the next day, citing Gibbons’ powerful position.
An investigation was closed after police and then-Clark County District Attorney David Roger determined there was insufficient evidence to prove that a crime occurred.
The lawsuit filed two years later by Kossack alleged that Mazzeo’s 14th Amendment rights to due process and equal protection were violated. The lawsuit quoted Gibbons as telling Mazzeo, “I’m going to rape you.”
Mazzeo accused Gibbons of kidnapping, battery and false imprisonment and alleged that police, Rogich, Young, Mossett-Puhek and former Gibbons attorney Donald Campbell conspired to obstruct justice, slander Mazzeo and cover up the case.
Campbell and Mossett-Puhek later were dismissed as defendants.