Oh how I want that to be my hyperbolic liberal mind-set and not the reality. But no, in fact, according to a lawsuit filed Tuesday by Chrissy Mazzeo against Gov. Jim Gibbons when he allegedly grabbed her and shoved her against a wall in a parking garage just weeks before the 2006 election that made him the worst governor in the nation, he said “I’m not going to fuck you. I’m going to rape you.” At the time charges were dropped, but now Mazzeo has re-grouped and is bringing it against Gibbons and then-sheriff Bill Young, and some other assorted Republican apparatchiks.
At the time there were all sorts of alarm bells going off for me in my old life as a reporter. The story goes that Gibbons, then a Congressman running for election as Nevada’s governor (against Dina Titus, now running for Congress), had dinner at McCormick & Schmicks with adviser Sig Rogich. The two had some drinks (allegedly by some accounts got a little rowdy) and invited cocktail waitress Chrissy Mazzeo to join them. After some more drinks she decided to leave, Gibbons (allegedly) followed her to the parking garage next to the restaurant, shoved her against a wall and threatened to sexually assault her.
What happens next …. is different depending on who you ask. Exiting Sheriff Bill Young (who had endorsed Gibbons and sometimes got political advice from Rogich) admitted that after Mazzeo filed a complaint against Gibbons that the sheriff called Gibbons to let him know that he had to come down and give a statement … an hour later. Unusual to be sure, but Young said that he did it as a professional courtesy considering Gibbons’ stature in the community. Meanwhile, Mazzeo was grilled for hours. Then there’s the bit about security video cameras inside the parking garage. All of them were working EXCEPT the one that would have showed us where Gibbons and Mazzeo where. And I seem to remember there was something about some missed time on the tape, just about when the two would have been on camera. Huh. Weird.
But no matter to Nevada’s voters! They gladly voted in Gibbons, even though he said he had no idea what he’d do with the state budget (saying he’d learn on the job) … and look how well that’s turned out! I mean, record billion-dollar-deficits don’t happen to just any states. And if memory serves, Gibbons did something illegal the very first day he was in office. But that’s probably just a weird coincidence.
In all seriousness, I’ve been in the same room with Chrissy Mazzeo. At the time she was painted as basically a drunken whore who was asking for it AND simultaneously making the whole thing up because of some political conspiracy against Gibbons AND that she was looking for a payday. Let me tell you my sense of Mazzeo. She’s not that bright. I don’t mean that as a put-down. I mean that as honesty. She seems like a regular gal (probably not unlike the type Gov. Sarah Palin is always talking about), who had a regular job (cocktail waitressing is a pretty regular job in Las Vegas) and was in the wrong place at the wrong time. She is not a conspiracy master-mind. And if ever there was a poster-child for why sex assault victims (or attempted assault victims) don’t press charges or don’t come forward, it’s her. Look what she’s up against! Even if I have no respect for Gibbons, I have to admit he is a very, very powerful and well-connected and wealthy man. She is not wealthy, not powerful, and in this sexist world where it still counts, also not a man. If ever there was a deck stacked against a victim, it’s her. I don’t know what her motives are and maybe nobody ever will. But I suspect that her motives are that she wants justice for being the victim of a crime. And if that’s the case, I wish her all the best.