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Family Court marshal at center of misconduct allegations suspended

A longtime Family Court marshal at the center of misconduct allegations was suspended Wednesday for undisclosed reasons.

The marshal, Steve Rushfield, is still employed by Family Court, but not on the premises and “currently does not have an assignment,” court officials said Wednesday.

Mary Ann Price, a spokeswoman for Clark County District Court, which oversees Family Court, said that because of personnel reasons, she couldn’t provide any specifics on why Rushfield is not on the job. That included whether he’s still being paid and how long he would be gone.

Price said suspensions usually occur when officials investigate misconduct allegations that come from either the court system or the media.

In March, following a Las Vegas Review-Journal story tying Rushfield to alleged misconduct, he stepped down as supervisor and went to work as a courtroom marshal for Family Court Judge Frank Sullivan.

His name has surfaced in a series of cases of misconduct claims being investigated by the FBI and court officials.

This past summer, FBI agents carted boxes of files from the Regional Justice Center office of Ed May, District Court’s human resources director. Agents had subpoenaed records from internal investigations of Family Court marshals over several years.

The Review-Journal reported in October that FBI agents have interviewed current and former courthouse employees in a stepped-up investigation into allegations of excessive force by Family Court marshals and possible cover-ups of their actions.

More than a half-dozen marshals, including internal affairs investigators, have been interviewed by the FBI.

Some Family Court marshals also have testified before a federal grand jury reviewing allegations that Rushfield choked Crystal Williams on May 20, 2010, while she was confined to a restraining chair. Williams has also testified.

Rushfield also has been accused by other marshals of trying to cover up the choking incident as well as an incident involving a marshal accused of groping a woman at Family Court.

The marshal, Ron Fox, is accused of assaulting Monica Contreras, 28, who was in Family Court on Aug. 8, 2011, for a divorce-related hearing.

Fox denies wrongdoing, but the FBI is also investigating that case. Contreras was ready to testify before the federal grand jury a couple of weeks ago, but her testimony was called off at the last minute.

In a courtroom incident captured on videotape, Contreras complained to a hearing master that Fox groped her in a witness room under the guise of searching for drugs. Both Fox, and the hearing master, who appeared on the tape to ignore Contreras’ pleas, were later fired.

Rushfield escaped serious discipline over the choking incident.

Also, despite a recommendation from Bob Bennett, the District Court’s director of security, that Rushfield be fired over a series of misconduct incidents, court administrators did not dismiss him.

Earlier this month, Rushfield’s name surfaced in a Review-Journal story about a September 2011 incident in which a Family Court marshal pulled a stun gun at the main entrance on another marshal.

Rushfield is alleged to have been involved in a scheme to retaliate against the marshal who was at the other end of the stun gun, which was not discharged.

The marshal who pulled the stun gun received a written reprimand, but neither he nor Rushfield were disciplined over the retaliatory effort.

Marshals who asked to remain anonymous have said there was an “oppressive culture” at Family Court when Rushfield was in charge of them.

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