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Worker accused of sex assault on North Las Vegas shelter client

Updated December 28, 2018 - 5:49 pm

A woman staying at the Shade Tree shelter for victims of domestic violence in North Las Vegas was allegedly kidnapped and sexually assaulted by a worker with a lengthy criminal history, according to police and court records.

Otis Tanner, 43, a temporary worker placed at the nonprofit by a third-party agency, according to Shade Tree officials, first introduced himself to the woman in late July. They exchanged phone numbers and he told her was interested in dating, Las Vegas police wrote in his four-page arrest report.

Although Shade Tree’s name was redacted in the report, dispatch logs and court records confirm the response to the domestic violence shelter’s location at 1 W. Owens Ave.

The unidentified woman told detectives that on July 31, she was kicked out of the shelter for 24 hours for unknown reasons and that Tanner offered to put her up at his house for the night.

When he picked the woman up in a dark blue pickup, she told him she would not have sex with him and he said he was fine with that, the report said.

But when they arrived at the home, described as a large house with a white door, Tanner’s behavior changed, the woman told officers.

‘This is my body’

When she asked to take a shower, he responded, “No, you will only do what I tell you to,” according to the report. He then locked the garage and front doors, the woman told detectives.

She got into one of the beds, fully clothed, and attempted to go to sleep.

Tanner later entered the bedroom and told her he was going to take pictures of her, and demanded she take off her clothes, the report said. He then pulled the woman on top of him, grabbed her by the throat and squeezed.

“This is my body, I can do what I want with it,” he said before sexually assaulting her, the report said.

The woman told police that during the attack, Tanner scratched her several times on the arms and legs and stabbed her in the left tricep with a pocket knife.

He also told her that she was going to bring him at least $3,000 by working as a prostitute and was going to live at his house, according to the report.

The next day, when Tanner left the house, the woman escaped and returned to Shade Tree, where she told staff members what had happened.

Although detectives interviewed the woman at University Medical Center on Aug. 3, a sexual assault exam wasn’t performed until Oct. 2. The examiner did not find evidence of trauma, according to the report.

The report did not explain the reason for the testing delay.

Tanner was arrested Dec. 22 after Las Vegas police responded to a domestic disturbance and saw he had outstanding warrants related to the alleged sexual assault and kidnapping.

In a statement, Shade Tree said Tanner had been placed at the shelter by ReEmployAbility, an agency that places workers in light-duty positions at various nonprofits while they recover from workplace injuries.

Tanner worked at the Shade Tree shelter for 25 hours over the course of three days in July 2018, the nonprofit said.

Third-party placements ended

“Upon learning of the assault, … Shade Tree severed all ties with ReEmployAbility and ceased all relationships with worker placement agencies, a policy still in effect now and moving forward,” the statement said.

Calls to ReEmployAbility, which is headquartered in Florida, for comment on Friday afternoon were not immediately returned.

Those who volunteer at the organization are required to go through an extensive screening process that includes passing background checks, and attend in-depth training and orientation before being allowed to volunteer, Shade Tree said, adding that the woman left the shelter in August.

In March 2017, another employee of Shade Tree, Robert White II, director of programs and education, was arrested on a domestic violence charge for allegedly striking his live-in girlfriend.

A judge later acquitted him on the misdemeanor charge, but he was dismissed by the shelter.

Tanner’s violent criminal history in Clark County dates at least to 1994.

He was charged with murder in 1997, but pleaded to a lesser charge of conspiracy to commit battery with a deadly weapon, court records show.

Other charges include the manufacture or importation of dangerous weapons, robbery, attempted murder with a deadly weapon, domestic violence, battery, engaging in prostitution or solicitation for prostitution, living from earnings of a prostitute and kidnapping and assault charges. The latter two charges were later dismissed.

Tanner now faces four counts of sexual assault and single counts of kidnapping, sex trafficking, battery with use of a deadly weapon and battery by strangulation.

Court records show he was released Monday on a $100,000 bail.

Contact Briana Erickson at berickson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5244. Follow @brianarerick on Twitter.

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