Public Works Director on Administrative Leave amid Sexual Harassment Allegations

The Storey Teller learned that Public Works Director Jason Van Havel has been placed on administrative leave amid sexual misconduct accusations with an underage female Storey County employee.

Equally disturbing are the allegations that the minor’s parents contacted Administrative Officer Austin Osborne immediately upon learning about the matter and waited weeks for action to take place. Only when the Parents contacted Storey County District Attorney Anne Langer did the county take action.

Speaking under the condition of anonymity, our source described the situation as extremely troubling and dangerous, “The fact that the juvenile rebuked the advances of her boss and ultimately followed protocol by reporting the matter to the proper authorities in Human Resources shows real courage. What disgusts me is that they (county management) dismissed this young woman and tried to sweep the matter under the carpet by not acting. I don’t know which is worse; they (the allegations and inaction) are both vile and disgusting. It makes me sick as a mother and a taxpayer knowing the people and taxpayers of Storey County are saddled with these types of people at the top.”

In a report filed with the Storey County Sheriff’s Office, The teen alleges that she received advances and inappropriate touching on two occasions. She maintains the advances were not invited, encouraged or responded to in any way. According to the report, after rebuking the unwelcome advances, the teen allegedly received a text message from the Van Havel late in the evening requesting the teen “entertain me”.

The teen was unsure about how to act on the situation but once the teen’s parents learned of the incident, they immediately took the matter to Osborne. The matter sat for a period of three weeks with no disciplinary action taken before the frustrated parents contacted District Attorney Langer and filed a complaint with the Storey County Sheriff’s Office.

Threats result in Action

It was only then that the county took action. This begs the question; what in the world was the holdup? Was the county conducting an investigation? Was the County trying to sweep the matter under the rug? Was the deer in the headlights confused into inaction? One can only speculate. What is known is that only when the matter was presented to the District Attorney’s Office did action take place.

What does this say about the leadership of Storey County? Are they capable of dealing with serious allegations like this appropriately? Based on their inaction one has to wonder. The Teller reached out to Austin Osborne for comment and as of the writing of this article, he has not responded . When contacted, Storey Count Sheriff Gerald Antinoro told The Teller: “We investigated the complaint and found no criminal voilation.” District Attorney Anne Langer advised us her office is conducting a confidential investigation and could not comment on it at this time. 

Based on the information we have been able to unearth surrounding this matter, the county’s inaction and actions seem to put the taxpayers in the unenviable position of needing to get out our checkbook to make another problem go away.

This falls on the heels of the complaints issued by Melanie Keener and Vanessa Adrian alleging county misconduct and sexual discrimination.

Accusations are one thing, proof is another.

It is important to remember that these matters, the Keener complaint, the Adrian complaint and the complaint of the underage employee, are accusations. In America, the burden of proof of misconduct rests with the accuser; the accused is presumed innocent until a jury of his or her peers conclude otherwise. This remains the case with both Sheriff Antinoro and Jason Van Havel.

What does this say about “County Management”?

Sexual misconduct is both serious and troubling. What should trouble all Storey County Residents, especially those who vote, is the notion that, if these accusations reflect the facts, Storey “County “Management” has zero clue how to properly deal with these situations. And to think about another way, if the victim was the daughter of Jeff Nevin or Gary Hames or Jessie Fain or Ausrin Osborne’s dog would this matter have been handled any differently? I’ll bet you a doughnut it would have..

Rather than using sober leadership to guide tough decisions, time and time again the default reaction of “County Management” seems to be to ignore, sweep under the rug or pay it to make it go away.

We fully expect Storey “County Management” will once again be getting out our checkbook to make this go away… Again.

From where we sit, this needs to change from within right now or we need to demand new leadership.

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