When asked the reason why one becomes a cop, a popular answer is “I wanted to catch the guys who thought they could get away with it.” Law enforcement is supposed to be about justice, but somewhere along the way many lose sight of that.
No longer can the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office keep certain allegations “off the record, or on the q.t., or very hush-hush” after a few of their “own” have been accused of sex crimes and sexual harassment among other things. Note: The law enforcement officers mentioned in this two-part article have either retired and/or resigned. All accused are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Plaintiff: State of Nevada: Alissa C. Engler, Chief Deputy Attorney General, Criminal Prosecution Division, Office of the Attorney General. Defendant: Louis Fredrick “Rick” Ashby
In court documents filed January, 2024 in the Justice Court of Ely Township County of White Pine, former Detective Rick Ashby has been charged with three (3) counts of sexual assault, each being a category “A” felony, one (1) count of sexual assault with a minor under 16 category “A” felony, one (1) count of attempted sexual assault category “B” felony, and one (1) count of lewdness with a child under 16 yrs. of age category “B” felony. These alleged crimes took place in the year(s) 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, and 2016. Note: The state of Nevada is representing two females on separate charges listed above.
In 2023 the State of Nevada vs. Louis Fredrick Ashby: The matter was initiated by complaint and probable cause that was shown prior to issuance of a warrant where an arrest was made.
The state did seek monetary bail in the amount of $25,000 out of “clear and convincing evidence” meaning evidence establishing every factual element to be highly probable or evidence which must be so clear as to leave no substantial doubt. The defendant did post bail, and was ordered to be on “House Arrest”, with stipulations, until further order of the court. Mr. Ashby did sign a “waiver” where he admitted to being arrested on criminal charges by the state of Nevada, and has a pending case in Ely Justice Court and/or the 7th Judicial District Court in White Pine County.
Mr. Ashby has hired private counsel Michael L. Becker for representation who has declined (with permission of his client) to accept the state’s plea bargain offer (a negotiation in which the defendant agrees to enter a plea of guilty to a lesser charge and the prosecutor agrees to drop a more serious charge), but instead proceed to a “jury trial”, which will ensure him a fair and impartial trial by a jury of one’s peers. It is unknown, at this time, if the defense will request that Ashby’s trial be moved to another county due to the likelihood that he cannot receive a fair trial in the original venue of Ely, NV., White Pine County.
In another blow for the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office there has been a federal lawsuit filed alleging sexual harassment, retaliation, and a “dehumanizing” workplace. George and Shannel Head, who both worked for the White Pine County Sheriff’s Office (WPCSO), allege that the sheriff’s office discriminated against them forcing them to resign in 2023.
Shannel Head, Sheriff’s Dispatch worked for the WPCSO from 2018 through 2023. She claims victim of pervasive sexual harassment at the hands of then Captain Jamie Swetich, and Sergeant Rick Ashby (promoted to Detective). Note: Both of the accused men have resigned and/or retired, and no longer work at the WPCSO.
Another claim in the lawsuit is that Shannel Head’s supervisors denied her bathroom breaks and left her with “no choice but to use a garbage can” to urinate in while working her shift(s). Along with White Pine County and the Sheriff’s office, Swetich and Ashby are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
The complaint alleges that in January 2023, Captain Jaime Swetich grabbed, and then kissed Shannel Head’s forehead three (3) times. He then tried to kiss her on the lips as she resisted his advances. Shannel Head alleges that she was “forced” to resign in February 2023 because of “the sexual abuse and toxic hostile work environment.” Even after she resigned, the complaint states that Captain Swetich called her repeatedly, forcing Mrs. Head to change her number “in order to avoid his continued stalking and harassment.”
Also alleged is that Detective Louis “Rick” Ashby, seeing that one of the buttons on Mrs. Head’s blouse had accidentally unfastened, he “brazenly” reached across her desk and further unfastened more of her blouse.
In the lawsuit George Head, Deputy (resigned) states that he was forced to commit a homicide in the line of duty (year 2021). He alleges that, during the shooting/homicide, his police radio malfunctioned which prevented other officers from being “timely dispatched to the scene, and substantially increasing the danger to him.” The suit states that the radio malfunction caused him stress and related physical and mental symptoms. But, when he reported the malfunction to his supervisors they allegedly “failed to take any remedial action at all.”
George Head resigned in June 2023, “after years of watching Sheriff Scott Henriod ignore the sexual allegations that Mrs. Head and the other female employees at the Sheriff’s office were forced to suffer.” Henriod is not named as an individual defendant.
The Heads’ attorney Ranojoy “Raj” Guha stated that the Sheriff’s office supervisors took no “remedial action” after Shannel Head’s complaints regarding the alleged harassment(s).