Authorities open investigation into woman's claim against GOP candidate for Nev. governor

Monday, October 30th 2006, 10:07 pm
By: News On 6

LAS VEGAS (AP) The district attorney said Monday that authorities have reopened their investigation into a cocktail waitress' claim that a Republican congressman running for governor assaulted her in a parking garage after a night of drinking.

District Attorney David Roger said the case involving Rep. Jim Gibbons, which had been closed after the woman, Chrissy Mazzeo, dropped her complaint, is under investigation again.

Sheriff Bill Young, who supports Gibbons for governor, said last week his office would reopen the investigation if Mazzeo requested it. Young did not immediately return a phone call Monday.

Mazzeo, a Las Vegas Strip casino waitress, accused Gibbons, 61, of pushing her up against a wall October 13th and propositioning her. Mazzeo, 32, said she had been pressured and offered cash from people linked to the Gibbons campaign to drop the complaint.

The five-term congressman, who is in a close race with Democratic state Sen. Dina Titus for Nevada's open governor's seat, has denied wrongdoing and sued Monday to force police to release surveillance videos he said would disprove Mazzeo's claim.

A judge set an emergency hearing for Tuesday.

Mazzeo's lawyer, Richard Wright, said he met with Roger on Monday morning to discuss how to proceed with the case, then went with Mazzeo to a police station, where she retracted her request to drop the allegations.

``I just want them to conduct an investigation just like they would conduct any other investigation when a woman alleges a battery or coercion,'' Wright said.

Gibbons said Monday that he walked Mazzeo to within 10 feet of the garage, caught her by the wrist when she tripped and walked away.

``The tapes will verify that I was never in the garage,'' Gibbons said Monday. ``I haven't seen the tapes. But I know what's not on them. I am not on them.''

Police previously said surveillance cameras in the garage weren't working. A property management company for the garage, however, said it turned hours of tapes over to authorities.

The police department said in a news release Monday that it would not comment until a judge ruled on the matter.

Gibbons led Titus 47 percent to 41 percent in a poll released Friday. Most of the polling took place after the allegations were reported but before Mazzeo held a news conference October 25th to recount her version of the events. The poll conducted by Washington-based Research 2000 for the Reno Gazette-Journal and KRNV-TV had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.