Thursday, Feb. 14, 2008 | 2:08 a.m.
Family Court Judge Nicholas Del Vecchio should step aside from the bench while the Nevada Commission on Judicial Discipline handles a series of damning charges against him.
The 38-count complaint filed last week against Del Vecchio by the commission’s special prosecutor alleges a pattern of reprehensible behavior that includes the charge that he forced his 14-year-old stepdaughter to perform sexual acts on him and pose nude for photos.
The complaint paints a picture of a man who used his position on the bench to manipulate people. It alleges that since he was elected in 2000 he:
• made numerous sexually graphic comments about female attorneys, litigants and court staff, and made racial comments about court employees, including his bailiff;
• forced attorneys who practiced in front of him to buy him and his staff lunch, urged a female court employee to date certain attorneys to try to get him campaign contributions, and directed his bailiff, who worked part time for an airline, to get him free plane tickets;
• ordered his staff to watch a girlfriend’s child during work hours and directed an assistant to collect $55 from each of his employees to buy him a train for Christmas.
The complaint cites more than a dozen attorneys or staff members who were witnesses to or the subjects of Del Vecchio’s abusive behavior. The worst of the complaint details the sexual relationship he is alleged to have had with his stepdaughter.
A decade after he first forced her to perform sexual acts, the complaint says, he hired her as his assistant and then allegedly pressured her into a sexual relationship for several months by threatening her with the loss of her job if she refused.
The allegations in the complaint are sickening, but Del Vecchio has yet to present his side. He denies the charges and says he will be cleared. However, because of the despicable nature of the charges, he should step aside to protect the Family Court’s reputation. The commission, meanwhile, should move quickly to resolve the case.