LAS VEGAS – Republican congressman and candidate for governor Jim Gibbons filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to compel police to release surveillance videos that he says will prove he was never inside a parking garage with a cocktail waitress who accused him of trying to sexually assault her.
The suit filed in Clark County District Court demands Las Vegas police release the tapes, which may document the inside of a parking garage on the evening of Oct. 13, when Chrissy Mazzeo claims Gibbons grabbed her and propositioned her after a night of drinking at a nearby restaurant.
Police, who previously said surveillance cameras in the garage weren't working and there were no tapes of the evening, have refused to confirm the tapes exist after a property management company for the garage said it turned hours of tapes over to authorities.
"A true record of the tape's recording will demonstrate that I was never in that parking garage on that evening," Gibbons says in the lawsuit.
An emergency hearing was scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday.
The five-term congressman who is locked in a tight battle for Nevada's open governor's seat has claimed he walked Mazzeo, 32, to the entrance of the garage where she tripped and he caught her, then walked away. Mazzeo says Gibbons pushed her against a wall and made sexual advances toward her inside the garage.
Gibbons says in the suit that the allegations have damaged his campaign and turned people to vote for his opponent, Democrat Dina Titus.
"Failure to produce the videotapes ... violates Congressman Gibbons' right to seek public office and the public's fundamental right to make an informed vote," the suit says.
Gibbons was leading in the gubernatorial race, according to an Oct. 27 poll with support from 47 percent of respondents, compared with Titus' 41 percent.
Most of the polling, by Research 2000 of Washington D.C., was conducted after the allegations were first reported but before Mazzeo held a news conference Oct. 25 to recount her version of the events. The poll conducted for the Reno Gazette-Journal and KRNV-TV had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Sheriff Bill Young, who supports Gibbons for governor and was the first to contact Gibbons after Mazzeo's allegations were made to police, refused to release the tapes to Gibbons' lawyer, the suit claims.
Young could not immediately be reached for comment.
Young has said police would not reopen an investigation until a crime report was signed, referring to Mazzeo dropping charges one day after she called 911 three times to report the incident.
Mazzeo said she was pressured to withdraw her complaint and that people associated with Gibbons' campaign offered her money to keep quiet.
Mazzeo's lawyer Richard Wright told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that his client will press forward with criminal charges and said he would meet Monday with the district attorney, David Roger.
A spokeswoman for Roger said Wright had not yet contacted the district attorney's office.
Shortly after Gibbon's suit was filed, Judge Mark Denton withdrew from the case, citing his extended family's involvement in the Titus campaign. It was reassigned to Judge Douglas Herndon.