The incident occurred in August 2011 when Ms. Contreras presented to Family Court as a part of an ongoing divorce and restraining order proceeding. She asserts in this video footage that when she leaves the court, the marshal instructs her to another room where he says that he needs to perform a drug search. Her request for a female marshal was not granted. He then feels her breasts, buttocks, and asks her to lift her skirt.
After the search, Ms. Contreras enters the courtroom, with her young daughter, and tells presiding judge Patricia Donninger about the inappropriate actions of Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox asks her to recant her story or risk being arrested. When she refused to recant and continues in angst to try and get the judge to hear her desperate plea for help (the judge inexplicably turns her back on Contreras and plays with the victims daughter instead of taking control of this troubling situation in HER courtroom), Mr. Fox has her arrested for "making a false report against an officer." While it is unclear if her accusations amounted to an arrest-worthy offense, even taking the matter this far was a showing of intimidation and aggression of the accused against the accuser.
The actions of Mr. Fox are indicative of bullying behavior towards a victim (yes, bullies do not just bully co-workers, they bully customers and other 3rd parties as well), and judge Donninger aids by acquiescence. Why would the judge not inquire into the reasons a female marshal was not involved? Why would the judge not ask Mr. Fox to recuse himself and have a different marshal investigate the allegations being alleged by Ms. Contreras instead of ignoring her and allowing her to be arrested while her young daughter pleads for them to release her mom? Better yet, why is the judge still on the bench after allowing this to occur in HER courtroom?!
There is no video to substantiate the sexual assault, but it seems the internal affairs investigation felt sufficiently warranted to terminate his employment. This, however, did not stop some enterprising lawyer from taking up Mr. Fox's cause and filing a lawsuit in late 2012 alleging wrongful termination. Obviously, there are too many lawyers in our society. With a few less lawyers, perhaps those remaining would be too busy handling cases of merit and would not waste their time dealing with this type of lawsuit. Because even if Mr. Fox is innocent of sexual assault, he is certainly guilty of having horrible judgment and courtroom demeanor. Indeed, conducting a physical search of a person that is not even at the courthouse under suspicion of a drug-related crime, and then not having a female court employee present to observe or conduct the search, seems like poor decision-making warranting termination.
Professor Kendall D. Isaac
Appalachian School of Law