April 18, 2018 - 5:15 pm
Updated April 19, 2018 - 8:56 pm
Two former prostitutes allege that brothel owner and Nevada Assembly candidate Dennis Hof sexually assaulted them several years ago, according to a newly released police report and interviews with the women.
The police report was released after the Nye County district attorney’s office last month declined to prosecute Hof, 71, because the statute of limitations had expired.
Hof, a Republican running for Assembly District 36 in Pahrump, denies the claims.
“It’s this sort of muckraking in the political cesspool that keeps so many good people from running for office,” he said. “But it won’t deter me.”
Jennifer O’Kane, 47, who worked as a prostitute at Hof’s Love Ranch in Crystal in 2011, said she received orders from “Madam Diane” — a manager — to go to her room one evening during her first week on the job.
When she entered the room, O’Kane told the Review-Journal, Hof was there.
“He asked me to undress and sit next to him,” said O’Kane, who now lives in Texas and works in customer service. “At that point he put his hands around my neck and explained to me that I was his.”
Hof forced her to have sex that night, she said. O’Kane said she was “raped and battered daily” by Hof, according to a report filed Nov. 15, 2016, with the Nye County Sheriff’s Office.
O’Kane said she reported the incident to Nye County authorities in 2011, but was not given an incident number or any paperwork. No record of the 2011 complaint was found, according to Nye County District Attorney Angela Bello. Five years later, as Hof faced off with Assemblyman James Oscarson in his first run for state office, a tearful O’Kane went to a Nye County Commission meeting on Oct. 18, 2016, to ask for help.
But before O’Kane could tell the commissioners about Hof, she was cut off by Commission Chairman Frank Carbone, who told her, “I know where you’re going” with the public comment. Carbone told her to “sit and relax” and return when she gained her composure. Before that happened, Sheriff Sharon Wehrly took O’Kane to a private room to fill out a sheriff’s report.
O’Kane, who said she had privately told Carbone about the rape allegations, did not return to comment before the commission.
“Jennifer stated she was forced to have sex with Hof against her will,” Detective James Brainard wrote in the report. “She claimed she complained to management, but was blown off.”
But Brainard noted there was no evidence to support the rape allegations and closed the case. It was reopened a year later after he interviewed more women. Brainard forwarded the case to the Nye County district attorney’s office on Dec. 4, 2017, but by then the four-year statute of limitations had expired. The district attorney’s office last month issued a denial letter.
O’Kane said her claims were brushed off because she was a prostitute and because Hof’s brothels generate a lot of tax revenue for the county.
Bello said the notion that her office refused to prosecute someone for political reasons is “completely unjustified.”
“We had no choice but to deny it. The statute of limitations had ended,” Bello said. “We don’t prosecute or not prosecute based on fear or favor.”
After the 2011 complaint went nowhere, O’Kane said she couldn’t file another police report because Hof in 2011 had moved her to another brothel in Mound House — 360 miles away. But she worked as an advocate and posted about her assault online.
Hof said O’Kane “is a disgruntled former sex worker who was also a competitor of mine before she lost her own brothel.” O’Kane owned her own brothel, the Calico Club, where she openly spoke of a culture of taking drugs from men at Hof’s Love Ranch in the wake of former NBA basketball star Lamar Odom overdosing there in 2015.
Barb Brents, a UNLV sociology professor who’s studied Nevada brothels for 20 years, said women in the sex industry face additional challenges in reporting assault and rape because of stigma. And authorities often don’t believe them.
“I think there’s a belief that women are selling their bodies to men so they have the right to do whatever they want to,” Bents said. “But they’re selling a service and they have a right to be safe while providing that service.”
Second accuser interviewed
Diana Grandmaison, who worked at the Bunny Ranch in Carson City under the stage name “Diana Foxx,” also was interviewed by Brainard, the Nye County detective. Grandmaison told the Review-Journal that in June 2009 Hof summoned her to the brothel’s bar, reached under her skirt and assaulted her in public.
Grandmaison did not report the incident to police because she was afraid of losing her job. She told Brainard that Hof was “not a nice person,” that he would “regularly assault” women and that she was forced to “perform acts to Dennis,” according to the report.
“He did this to girls at the brothel all the time. He would make young girls sit on his lap,” Grandmaison said in a phone interview. “I had no choice — you couldn’t say no. If you said no, you were going to pay a price and get kicked out of the brothel.”
Hof maintains his accusers are attempting to “try me in the media with their unsubstantiated allegations and innuendo” two months before the primary election against Oscarson.
Contact Ramona Giwargis at email@example.com or 702-380-4538. Follow @RamonaGiwargis on Twitter.