Amid a cloud of misconduct allegations, the man who oversees Family Court marshals is stepping down April 8 to become a rank-and-file marshal assigned to a judge, court officials confirmed Monday.
Lt. Steve Rushfield, at the center of the swirling misconduct allegations detailed in a March 17 Review-Journal report, made the announcement at a morning briefing of marshals in Family Court.
“This is a voluntary action on his part,” said Mary Ann Price, the spokeswoman for District Court, which oversees Family Court.
Price declined further comment.
Rushfield, a veteran of 24 years of public service, declined comment. Chief District Judge Jennifer Togliatti was out of town and unavailable for comment. And Steve Grierson, the District Court executive, said he was unable to comment because it is a personnel matter.
Rushfield is suspected of participating in a cover-up of assault allegations against another marshal and was the subject of an internal investigation into allegations he choked a 23-year-old woman restrained in a chair in a holding cell.
The other marshal, Ron Fox, was fired after a hearing master upheld allegations he groped Monica Contreras, 28, who was in Family Court on Aug. 8, 2011, for a brief hearing related to her divorce.
In a courtroom incident captured on video, Contreras complained to Hearing Master Patricia Doninger that Fox assaulted her in a nearby witness room under the guise of searching for drugs.
Contreras alleged Fox touched her buttocks and breast and ordered her to lift and shake her bra so he could determine whether she was hiding drugs or drug paraphernalia, according to internal court documents.
On courtroom video, Doninger is seen playing with Contreras’ daughter and appearing to ignore the woman’s emotional description of the incident and plea for help.
Fox tried to get her to recant the allegations. When she refused, another marshal, James Kenyon, handcuffed her and took her into custody. Her crime, as described by Fox, was making false allegations.
Rushfield was investigated in connection with an incident on May 20, 2010, in which he is alleged to have choked Crystal Williams in a restraining chair.
Williams was at a hearing in Family Court to support a friend. After a confrontation with marshals outside the courtroom about her use of a cellphone, she was taken to a holding cell and strapped into the chair.
According to one of the four marshals in the room, Williams was combative and constantly screaming. The marshal, who asked not to be named in fear of retribution, said Rushfield grabbed her by the throat with one hand, shoved her head back and said, “You’re in my house, bitch. Shut the f— up.”
Rushfield is also alleged to have broken her cellphone.
Before an internal investigation into the incident, Rushfield summoned all the witnesses to the back of the courthouse to “get the story straight,” the marshal said.
Police also were asked to investigate the incident, but in early 2011, detectives with the Criminal Intelligence Section of the Metropolitan Police Department decided the matter was best left for administrative action by the court.
Since then, there has been no word of any disciplinary action taken against Rushfield.
Contact Jeff German at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-380-8135. Follow @JGermanRJ on Twitter.