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Police officer arrested on lewdness charges involving 2 girls

Updated January 31, 2020 - 6:59 pm

A 20-year veteran of the Metropolitan Police Department was arrested Friday on suspicion of lewdness charges involving at least two girls.

The officer, 47-year-old Christopher Peto, is assigned to the Laughlin Area Command, and investigators believe he interacted with the girls at Laughlin Junior/Senior High School, according to Metro.

Police said Peto is accused of engaging in sex acts over the last two years with at least two girls whose ages range between 13 and 17. Peto was booked into the Clark County Detention Center on suspicion of lewdness with a child who is 14 or 15 by a person 18 or older, child abuse or neglect, two counts of first-degree kidnapping, three counts of soliciting a child for prostitution, and five counts of lewdness with a child under 14, jail records show.

“It is believed that Officer Peto encountered these girls at the Laughlin Jr./Sr. High School and during calls for service,” Metro said in a statement.

Peto has worked for Metro since 1999, the department said. He has been relieved of duty with pay pending formal charges.

Previous legal battles

Peto has previously been in the public eye when in February 2002, he and two other officers restrained a man who later died. The man, 46-year-old Craig Becker, tore apart his family’s home and claimed to be Jesus before a family friend called the police for help in February 2002, according to news accounts.

Officers James Coover, Matthew Gillis and Peto responded to the report and attempted to take him into custody. Becker was pepper-sprayed, wrestled to the ground and handcuffed, then he stopped breathing, the Review-Journal reported in 2002.

A coroner’s inquest jury ruled that the officers were not responsible for Becker’s death, although the Clark County coroner’s office had previously ruled his death a homicide. A wrongful-death lawsuit was later filed in federal court by Becker’s family, but was permanently dismissed in February 2006, court records show.

Six months after Becker’s death, Peto was mentioned in another lawsuit where he was accused of using his police badge to get an underage woman into a nightclub. Peto was identified in court records by the Review-Journal at the time as “Chris Peto.”

Online records from Transparent Nevada indicate only one Christopher T. Peto has been employed by Metro since 2009. Records dating before 2009 were not available.

According to the September 2003 lawsuit, filed in Clark County District Court, Ashley Richert got together on Aug. 1, 2002, with her underage friend. Her friend then called then-31-year-old Peto, who was off-duty at the time.

They asked for help getting into Club Ra at the Luxor hotel-casino, and Peto enlisted the aid of fellow Metro officer Kendall Walker.

“The group arrived at the Luxor where defendants Peto and Walker utilized their positions as police officers to help (the others) gain entrance to Club Ra,” the complaint said.

Later in the evening, Richert returned to Peto’s home with Walker and Peto. The lawsuit claimed she fell asleep and was awakened as Walker was raping her.

According to court documents filed by Metro in 2006, Walker was fired after the allegation. Peto, who “did not have any prior discipline in his file,” was given an 80-hour suspension due to “serving alcohol to minors and taking minors to a hotel/casino.”

A judgment of more than $175,700 in damages was granted against Peto in April 2006, and the case was dismissed two months later.

Las Vegas Justice Court records show a Christopher Thomas Peto was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol in 2009. The outcome of the case was unclear Friday.

Anyone with any information about the case may contact Metro’s internal affairs criminal investigative section at 702-587-2709. To remain anonymous, contact Crime Stoppers at 702-385-5555.

Contact Dalton LaFerney at dlaferney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0288. Follow @daltonlaferney on Twitter. Contact Katelyn Newberg at knewberg@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0240. Follow @k_newberg on Twitter.

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