Divorce documents unsealed, charge Gibbons with infidelity

RENO — First lady Dawn Gibbons accuses Gov. Jim Gibbons of extramarital affairs with the wives of two Reno doctors in divorce documents unsealed Monday by a court order.

Through her lawyers, Dawn Gibbons also states that Gibbons has been “untruthful regarding matters about his infidelity” with Kathy Karrasch and Leslie Durant, a former Playboy model.

During news conferences last year, the governor denied he was anything more than good friends with the two women. Gibbons filed for divorce from his wife of nearly 23 years on May 2.

In unsealed court records, Dawn Gibbons contends that the reason Gibbons filed for divorce was to spend time with “another woman.”

The records also show she was ordered to pay $796 in attorney fees by Washoe County Family Court Judge Frances Doherty in August for demanding more information from Gibbons on why he wants a divorce. Doherty said Nevada is a no-fault divorce state and Dawn Gibbons’ “demand for particulars is spurious and served no purpose.” The governor cited “incompatibility” as his reason for the divorce. That was sufficient, according to the judge.

Dawn Gibbons’ lawyer, Cal Dunlap, was authorized in a Feb. 23 order to depose both Durant and Karrasch. Those depositions remain sealed. In public court records, Dunlap said he wanted to know the times and places of the governor’s “rendezvous with Karrasch.” Among the questions Dunlap asked was whether Gibbons had taken them on trips and what gifts he had given them, dating back to 1990.

Dunlap also requested phone records dating back to 1990 to see how often they spoke with Jim Gibbons. In the unsealed records, Dawn Gibbons said her husband deliberately destroyed phone records from his Washington office in an attempt to hide long-distance calls he made to women. Gibbons was a five-term congressman before running for governor in 2006.

In the unsealed records, Dawn Gibbons refers to the governor making 867 text messages from a state cell phone to Karrasch in a six-week period shortly after becoming governor. Gibbons told reporters he was responding to Karrasch’s messages, even at 2 a.m., and that she sometimes offered him advice on political matters.

Dunlap treated that comment with skepticism, asking who “can possibly believe his explanation that he was consulting with another man’s wife in the wee hours of the night on matters of state?”

Gibbons, who reimbursed the state $130 for the text messages, said during a press conference in 2008 that he was no longer seeing Karrasch because she was upset by the media attention.

He was photographed with Durant at the Reno Rodeo in June 2008.

The divorce records were unsealed by Doherty in a March 20 decision. Doherty, however, agreed that financial records pertaining to the governor will remain sealed at least until April 20.

Also in the divorce records made public, Dawn Gibbons’ alleges that her husband tried to hide a construction defect problem at their home in southwest Reno and tried to induce authorities in the assessor’s office to undervalue the property.

The ranch-style home on a 2.8-acre lot was assessed last year at $661,159 and was constructed in 1986. It went on sale for $1.4 million and remains on the market. Assessed value typically reflects 35 percent of the market value. The property will be valued at $749,837 in the tax rolls on July 1.

Deputy Washoe County Assessor Theresa Wilkins said Monday that the property’s value is similar to neighboring properties and there is “nothing to suggest an under-evaluation.”

The Gibbonses also own ranch land near Lamoille in Elko County that they purchased for $575,000 in 2006.

In the opened records, Gibbons’ lawyer Gary Silverman said the governor was concerned that his estranged wife might make an “unfounded claim of domestic violence against him.” No such claims were found in the divorce records.

In a June 9, 2008, agreement, the governor decided not to oppose allowing his estranged wife to live in a one-room apartment over the “Nevada Room,” a reception area for parties adjacent to the Governor’s Mansion. He lives in the mansion.

She is permitted to use the first floor of the mansion for public events, such as her efforts to stop drug use.

Daniel Burns, Gibbons’ communications director, said Monday that he would not comment on personal matters affecting the governor and did not know when the divorce might be finalized.

Jim and Dawn Gibbons have a son, Jimmy, a cadet in the U.S. Merchant Marines Academy in New York. The governor also has two children from a previous marriage.

Dawn Gibbons mentions in the divorce documents how she has been “devastated” by the divorce and actions of her husband. In one document, she said she feels like a “castaway wife.” She notes that she stood by him in 2006 after he was accused of assaulting a woman in Las Vegas after he drank “copious amounts of alcohol.”

Chrissy Mazzeo, a former cocktail waitress, filed a civil lawsuit against the governor in the matter. Mazzeo contends that Gibbons, then a gubernatorial candidate, walked her to a parking garage and tried to assault her.

Gibbons said he tried only to keep Mazzeo from falling.

The Clark County district attorney’s office investigated the incident and did not file charges against Gibbons.

 

Contact Capital Bureau Chief Ed Vogel at evogel@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3901.

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