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Clark County settles child sex abuse lawsuit for $250K

The Clark County Commission on Tuesday agreed to pay $250,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by the court-appointed guardian of three minors, two of whom were placed by the Department of Family Services into an Oregon home where they were allegedly sexually abused.

The department tasked with keeping children safe should have known that Wesley F. Rees, who both children were sent to live with in 2012, had a criminal history that included sexually abusing an 11-year-old girl, according to the complaint.

Rees is the biological father of one of the two children, said attorney Allen Ressler, who represented the plaintiffs. They had been in county custody after being removed from their mother.

In a county staff report, department officials said they “relied on an out of state home study confirming the safety of the home.” But Ressler stated the county could not shirk responsibility.

“Our position was that despite what Oregon was saying, Clark County was required to do their own investigation to see if this was a proper place and could not rely exclusively on what Oregon was telling them,” he said.

According to the suit, a year before the two children were placed in Rees’ home, another of his biological children was sent by the mother to live with him. That child was identified as a victim in a March 2015 indictment of Rees in Oregon on 16 counts of child sex crimes, it said.

That child is the third plaintiff in the lawsuit. Even though the other two children were not named in the indictment, the suit claims they were also abused.

In April 2016, Rees was sentenced to 300 months in prison for sexually abusing children, according to the suit. Oregon court records show a Wesley F. Rees received that sentence after being convicted of 13 of 16 sex crimes against him.

The county denied all allegations in a response filed with the court.

In the staff report, the county said the settlement was recommended to avoid future court costs, an adverse judgment and potential responsibility for plaintiffs’ attorney fees.

Dan Kulin, a spokesman for the county, did not provide additional comment in response to a request.

Energy incentives

The commission also approved a five-year customer services agreement Tuesday with NV Energy, requiring the county to remain a full-service electric customer during the term in exchange for $1.1 million in annual incentive payments for three years from the service provider to the county.

NV Energy is also guaranteeing that the county’s savings, in the final two years of the term, will be at least as much as the incentive payments through an optional pricing program tariff it has asked the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to approve.

Homeless housing

County officials are eyeing as many as 100 apartment units to support transitional and bridge-housing efforts for homeless people.

In order to fast-track leasing contracts, the commission on Tuesday approved allowing the county manager or their designee, after internal review, to sign rental agreements as the units become available.

Residential parking restrictions

The commission voted to strengthen existing rules against commercial vehicles, such as tractor-trailers, parking in residential areas, which is already outlawed but has been a source of frustration from constituents.

An ordinance amendment approved Tuesday authorized administrative citations and prompt towing of vehicles whose owners do not comply with warnings. The revised policy also clarifies who may issue citations and allows the county’s public works director to erect parking enforcement signs.

Traffic Safety Commission

Commissioner Michael Naft said Tuesday he envisions the Traffic Safety Commission he is creating will consist of 12 political, law enforcement and community representatives.

The commission, which Naft will chair, will be goal-oriented and return recommendations within a year on how to improve traffic safety. His efforts come on the heels of a traffic safety forum in June.

There were nearly 22,000 crashes and 135 fatalities within the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department jurisdiction last year, he said.

“We’ve been talking for a few months now that this is not something we can just let slide,” he said. “This is something that we have the power to solve … or decrease this problem.”

Contact Shea Johnson at sjohnson@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0272. Follow @Shea_LVRJ on Twitter.

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