Ex-Deputy Settles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit for $250,000

By Ken Ritter | December 24, 2019

LAS VEGAS — A former chief deputy sheriff in rural Nevada has accepted $250,000 to end a lawsuit stemming from allegations the sheriff sexually harassed her in 2015.

Melanie Keener’s attorney, Gus Falangas, characterized his client on Friday as happy to move on.

Storey County Sheriff Gerald Antinoro declined to comment. In court documents, neither he nor the county admitted wrongdoing.

The agreement, approved this month by county lawmakers, had Keener leave her job of nearly 20 years.

“Essentially she gets harassed, she complains, and they punish her,” Falangas said. “She wanted to get out of there. It was a very stressful daily reminder of what happened.”

Keener had been reassigned from county director of security to courthouse bailiff after reporting that Antinoro sexually harassed her during a work trip to the city of Ely in 2015.

Keener agreed to allow her name to be made public, her attorney said. The Associated Press typically does not name people who say they’re victims of sexual assault unless they agree to be identified.

The Reno Gazette-Journal reported the county paid $80,000 toward the settlement, and $170,000 came from the Nevada Public Agency Insurance Pool. The newspaper was first to report the settlement. U.S. District Judge Robert Jones dismissed the case Dec. 12.

The lawsuit was filed in 2017 in federal court in Reno against Antinoro and the county. It followed a discrimination complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and alleged negligence and infliction of emotional distress. Jones dismissed sexual harassment claims last May.

Antinoro has been the focus of several other complaints, but survived a recall election last year.

Storey County is home to about 4,000 people and includes the historic northern Nevada mining communities Virginia City and Gold Hill. It is also now home to a Tesla Inc. electric vehicle battery factory east of Reno that employs more than 7,000 people.

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