Undercurrent

Lawyer resorts to public shaming for legislative support

By: - August 10, 2018 4:38 pm
corpus delecti

Attorney Stephen Stubbs defends going on YouTube and outing a sexual assault suspect who was a juvenile when the alleged crime occurred.

corpus delecti
Attorney Stephen Stubbs defends going on YouTube and outing a sexual assault suspect who was a juvenile when the alleged crime occurred.

Attorney Stephen Stubbs is out to change a law that prevents prosecutors from filing criminal charges in some cases involving very young or mentally disabled victims who can’t testify that a crime occurred, and he says he doesn’t care what it takes to do it — even if it means resorting to public shaming.

Stubbs erected a website, made a Youtube video and says he’s shopping for billboards to publicize his effort to call attention to a case of alleged sexual abuse against a baby that occurred a decade ago.  On Saturday he’ll up the ante by protesting outside a Boulder City beauty salon owned by his first cousin, Sherrill Graff.  Stubbs says Graff’s son is best friends with the man who admits as a teen he abused a baby in his care. Graff was not available for comment.

The toddler wasn’t even two years old when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by her babysitter, a 14-year-old family friend.  The boy, now a man, revealed the secret during an employment polygraph for a job with Metro Police. A Boulder City man admitted in an employment interview with Las Vegas Metro Police that, as a teen, he digitally penetrated the toddler, who he was babysitting.

Stubbs wants the man prosecuted, but the law won’t allow it.

The Current is not identifying the man because he was a juvenile at the time.  No charges have been filed and that’s got Stubbs, who represents the family, in high-gear public relations mode.

“It’s the only justice available and serves an important purpose of generating public outrage to get the law changed. Getting the law changed is the most important thing and no punches will be pulled,” Stubbs maintains.

The attorney says he doesn’t care if people consider it harassment or public shaming and dismisses any concerns that he’s taking the law into his own hands.

“If I wanted to be a vigilante, I’d just make a call,” says Stubbs. “Creating outrage to push for the law change is very important.”

But defense attorneys say if pressed, they have a compelling story or two, themselves, to illustrate the outcome of false or coerced confessions.

Clark County deputy public defender John Piro points to the case of Cathy Woods, a mentally incapacitated woman who served 35 years behind bars for a crime she didn’t commit.

Woods is suing the City of Reno, a former prosecutor and police for their role in convicting her based on a coerced false murder confession while she was in a Louisiana psychiatric hospital.

The state of Nevada eventually dismissed all charges against her based on DNA evidence from a cigarette butt.

Avoiding false accusations is especially important in a state such as Nevada, which has no mechanism for compensating victims of false prosecution, Piro says.

“It’s important to have proof that a crime was committed,” Piro says.

Stubbs says he has District Attorney Steve Wolfson on his side this time.  The Nevada District Attorneys Association opposed the measure previously.  Wolfson did not respond to our request for comment.

Stubbs also says gubernatorial candidate and Attorney General Adam Laxalt, who supported the measure in 2015, is in his corner. “But he says he has to get elected first,” Stubbs adds.

Laxalt’s office did not respond to the Current.

Stubbs says he has the support of both Democratic and Republican party leaders but could not name any legislators who back the measure.

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Dana Gentry
Dana Gentry

Dana Gentry is a native Las Vegan and award-winning investigative journalist. She is a graduate of Bishop Gorman High School and holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Gentry began her career in broadcasting as an intern at Channel 8, KLAS-TV. She later became a reporter at Channel 8, working with Las Vegas TV news legends Bob Stoldal and the late Ned Day. Gentry left her reporting job in 1985 to focus on motherhood. She returned to TV news in 2001 to launch "Face to Face with Jon Ralston" and the weekly business programs In Business Las Vegas and Vegas Inc, which she co-anchored with Jeff Gillan. Dana has four adult children, two grandsons, three dogs, three cats and a cockatoo named Casper.

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