weather icon Clear

Report details sexual harassment claims against public defender

Updated September 11, 2018 - 7:50 pm

Clark County Public Defender Phil Kohn discussed his female employees’ “provocative dress,” the “size of their breasts” and “what he would like to do to them,” according to a sexual harassment investigation’s findings released Tuesday.

The release of the two-page summary report comes days after County Manager Yolanda King told public defender employees she is switching the assistant county manager overseeing Kohn and his department, according to an email obtained by the Review-Journal.

Kohn, 67, could not be reached on his cellphone Tuesday. King declined to comment.

The summary, dated July 9, detailed the findings of an investigation into Kohn by attorney Robert Freeman of the Lewis Brisbois law firm in Las Vegas. The investigation began in March after county commissioners received an anonymous letter that claimed Kohn was “often inappropriate with many of the women who work in the office.”

“Mr. Kohn was reported as spending excessive time in their offices, showing favoritism, and trying to act as a personal advisor,” the report states. “He also discussed with others during work conversations his off-topic observations on how beautiful these employees are.”

The report states that Freeman interviewed Kohn and 20 current and former employees of the public defender’s office. The names of everyone except Kohn were redacted.

The employees told investigators that Kohn often prefaced his statements with “I probably shouldn’t say this.” And while many of the workers said that Kohn is a good boss, “nearly every person interviewed admitted that Mr. Kohn sometimes acts inappropriately.”

The investigation found that Kohn showed inappropriate attention to “dark-haired women” and that he repeatedly asked one female employee about her sexual orientation.

Some employees said Kohn made them uncomfortable by standing too close to them or striking a “Captain Morgan” pose, in which he would expose his “crotch area” by swinging one of his legs over a chair arm or propping a leg up on a table.

Kohn said he had heard complaints about the pose before but continued to stand that was because “it provides him some relief from back pain,” according to the report.

Three employees said they found Kohn to be vindictive and they feared being demoted or passed over for promotions if they complained about his behavior.

They told investigators that Kohn “feels he is untouchable because of his close relationship with his supervising assistant county manager” Jeff Wells.

The claims were unsubstantiated, according to the report. However, King told public defender employees via email last week that Wells will no longer oversee the office. Assistant County Manager Kevin Schiller is taking his place.

King did not write in the email why the change was made but did say that the county will not tolerate any retaliation from Kohn once he returned to work. King reminded the staff that they could file additional complaints with either her or the county’s Office of Diversity.

“I am hearing quite a bit of chatter that there may be much more occurring in the office than what was noted in the anonymous letter,” she wrote. “I must remind you all that that everyone has the responsibility to report harassment or discrimination in the workplace even if you are not the target. I cannot investigate misconduct if I am not made aware of what may be occurring.”

The release of the report is an about-face for King. Last week, the county manager confirmed that allegations of sexual harassment against Kohn had been substantiated. However, King would not reveal how Kohn was disciplined and said the county would not release the report documenting the investigation’s findings because it is a personnel issue.

Kohn has been out of the office since Aug. 24 and will return Friday, according to an automatic reply from his county email address. According to an email sent from King to public defender employees last week, “Kohn was suspended and will return on September 14.”

Kohn plans to retire in January. The county plans begin to taking applications for his position in September and hire a replacement.

Contact Michael Scott Davidson at sdavidson@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3861. Follow @davidsonlvrj on Twitter.

Kohn Report by Las Vegas Review-Journal on Scribd

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
Assemblywoman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ - Video
Assembly Woman Daniele Monroe-Moreno hosts BBQ to bring the community together to hear about the candidates up for election and for people to gather and have fun.
Democrat Virtual Caucus - Video
Elizabeth Warren visits Las Vegas
Senator Elizabeth Warren made a campaign stop at the East Las Vegas Community Center on Tuesday July 2, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Aaron Ford Speaks About Bill AB431
AB431 is a bill sponsored by Nevada Assembly Speaker Jason Frierson to restore the right to vote for formerly incarcerated individuals. Attorney General Aaron Ford spoke at the AM&E Church in North Las Vegas about the bill, on Monday, July 1, 2019. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
County wants joint meeting on potential funding to CCSD

Clark County commissioners on Tuesday signaled that they were unwilling to commit any dollars from a potential quarter-cent sales tax hike to the school district without first meeting with trustees on a plan and accountability.