October 10, 2016

Questions of what should be public in civil suit against House candidate

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Photo Credit: Joe Gratz cc

Media coverage and the question of whether certain documents should be made public are the most recent arguments between lawyers in a civil lawsuit against New Mexico legislative hopeful Rebecca Dow.

From the Committee to elect Rebecca Dow

From the Committee to elect Rebecca Dow

In a motion filed Monday, Dow’s attorney Theresa Parrish asked the Sierra County district court to seal personnel documents in the case. Parrish wrote she was under the assumption that the plaintiff’s lawyer would not seek to release the documents.

She wrote that she told the opposing counsel she ‘did not want to see these documents in the newspaper,’ and thought they were in agreement.

Parrish’s motion comes after a lawsuit was filed against her client, Dow, alleging Dow is culpable for the actions of one of her former employees, Alejandro Hernandez.

Hernandez worked for Dow when he molested one boy and raped another boy, both of whom were under his supervision while working for Dow. Hernandez pleaded guilty last year to two charges of sexual contact and criminal sexual penetration. He is currently serving a six-year sentence in the Otero County Prison Facility.

Dow runs both the Boys & Girls Club of Sierra County and AppleTree Educational Center in Truth or Consequences.

Truth or Consequences lawyer Mark Filosa filed the civil suit against Dow last week.

Before then, Filosa filed a complaint against Dow last month alleging that Dow should have taken swifter and more severe action to stop other inappropriate behavior by Hernandez. In his complaint, Filosa said he discovered evidence that Hernandez was issued a written warning for after he allegedly asked a teenage girl under his supervision at work if she had engaged in sexual intercourse with her boyfriend.

Filosa also wrote that he discovered Dow interviewed Hernandez for a promotion. Through the discovery process, Filosa said he found evidence that Dow had ample opportunity to prevent Hernandez from committing the crimes against the two young boys.

Still, none of the documents that Filosa cited were filed with the court, partly because Dow’s attorney’s “intimated” that they did not want the documents released publicly.

In her motion, Parrish accused Filosa of taking advantage of an court order allowing him to go through the discovery process before filing an official complaint against Dow and asked the court to protect confidential information.

According to Parrish, Filosa said, “at least 15 times” that he only wanted to go through the discovery process before a suit was filed in order to find out who was responsible for hiring and employing Hernandez.

Parrish also accused Filosa of using Dow’s political campaign to gain more attention.

“This had made the claims against her and her comments about them a topic of far more public attention than is typical in a litigated matter,” Parrish wrote.

In response, Filosa accused Dow of seeking media attention herself.

“Rebecca Dow has been on an unabated publicity campaign to protect herself and to damage Plaintiffs’ case,” Filosa wrote. “She cannot be heard to ask for assistance regarding a problem she created.”

Filosa added he believes the information he obtained shows that Dow is misleading the public and those coming to her support.

He wrote Dow has continually been “talking to the press and said communications have misled the press and the public as established by the production of these materials, which the defendants now want kept from the public.”

Both Parrish and Filosa declined to comment for this story.

Filosa invoked a scandal-ridden televangelist and a character from a satirical novel about religion to take a final shot at Dow and her religious views. Dow took to social media last month and posted a picture of a bible passage thanking her supporters.

“A lesson we learned from sinful pedophile priests, Jimmy Swaggert, (sic) and the mythical Elmer Gantry was that trying to use God to cover-up our shortcomings and responsibility for a problem we caused never works and always catches up with you sooner or later,” Filosa wrote.  “Obviously, for the defendant hopeful Dow, she is banking on it being later.”

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