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ON-CAMERA EXCLUSIVE: Seroka scandal revealed

'I was afraid to lose my career,' former staffer to Seroka speaks out
Posted at 7:27 PM, Jul 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-26 22:33:17-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Marady Leary says former Councilman Steve Seroka abused his power and the city did nothing to protect her.

She describes a culture of entitlement by the city's elected officials and says she suffered victim blaming and retaliation after the city leaked her confidential complaint.

She has stayed silent until now.

"He resigned without any explanation to the people. He was elected by the people. They deserve to know the truth. And this is not easy for me."

Seroka vowed not to go down without a fight. Despite an intense recall effort, he wouldn't give up the seat he'd only briefly filled in Ward 2.

But in March, he abruptly resigned without explanation.

Leary says she knows why.

"He was a very powerful politician and I held him in the highest esteem. And I would've done anything for him," she says.

"He was my friend. He was my mentor. And he made those decisions. He made the decision to take the relationship to an unprofessional level."

In her February human resources complaint to the City of Las Vegas, and in another one just filed with the Nevada Equal Rights Commission, Leary -- who served as Seroka's special assistant -- describes methodical manipulation, predatory grooming and harassment leading up to sexual assault.

"I started accompanying him to more and more events where there was drinking involved. And it didn't really become unprofessional until he had invited me to go to New York," says Leary. "And he had said that it was going to be a trip where it was really important for me to go because I was going to be doing a lot of networking."

As a longtime veteran's advocate, she says Seroka told her it would be a great career opportunity for her to go with him to the November Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America annual fundraising gala.

"It was a lot of alcohol," she recalls.

"I was tired. I had flown all day. And so I think we left around midnight or 1:00 a.m. but I remember him kissing me outside of the Manhattan Car Club and then I don't remember the cab ride to my hotel. And then in my hotel I remember him being in my hotel room, him being undressed, me being undressed and when I woke up the next morning he was gone."

But she says he'd left something behind on the bedside table.

"And I'll never forget this, I saw his watch and his ring there. I immediately was completely freaked out. I didn't know what to do. I didn't really know what happened. I was afraid."

She says she later asked Seroka what happened.

"And he said, 'Oh, I didn't think you were that drunk. Nothing completely happened.' And he was like, 'I thought that it was you, too, that wanted to do this.' And he was like putting very much the blame on me."

Scared that she'd be fired, she didn't feel safe to tell anyone and says she hoped it would just all go away.

But that didn't happen.

"There would be times when he would call me and he had been drinking and he would tell me about sexual fantasies that he had. He was always making mention of how beautiful I was, how he was in love with me."

That's behavior her attorneys would later call "grooming."

"Also, being very physical. But it was always like either in his car at City Hall when we were going to a meeting. One time, in his office when I was reading a document to him, he put his hand up my skirt... tried to kiss me in the office."

She says she told him repeatedly she couldn't handle what was happening.

And although she says he would back off for awhile, "It somehow always seemed to start up again," says Leary.

"And I know that the people at City Hall believe that I'm to blame. And sometimes I think I could've been more forceful. I should've not gone along with it as much as I did. But ultimately, he was my boss," she says.

"He was in a huge position of power over me. He was a City Councilman. I was afraid. I was afraid to tell my husband. I was afraid to tell my co-workers. I was afraid to lose my career."

Steve Seroka has not responded to multiple attempts to reach him for response, and neither has his attorney.

13 Investigates has reviewed evidence presented to the city in which Seroka praises Leary's work, says he's embarrassed and calls what happened an anomaly and a mistake.

He offers options for her to work part-time from home or resign to keep her benefits. He also asks that the whole thing be kept quiet.

But she couldn't stay silent.

READ THE COMPLAINT FILED WITH NEVADA EQUAL RIGHTS COMMISSION

After severe stress led to medical leave documented by several doctors, she filed that February human resources complaint with the city.

Days later, Steve Seroka resigned.

"When he resigned, what did that say to you?" Darcy Spears asked.

"That he was guilty," Leary answered. "I mean, he had held a fundraiser the week before fighting this recall and taking thousands of dollars from people."

Victoria Seaman replaced Steve Seroka after winning a special election in June.

We tried to ask her about Leary's allegations.

Seaman called Seroka's resignation surprising, but when asked what her concerns about it were, she said, "I've been asked not to comment about Councilman Seroka by our City Attorney, so I'm not going to comment about that, but any time taxpayer dollars are spent, it's always a concern to me."

Taxpayers spent nearly $18,000 for Leary to be on three months of paid administrative leave while the city investigated.

And still... no answers.

Her lawyers say despite those doctors notes citing trauma, anxiety and severe stress, the city stopped paying her in May after she refused to come back to work at City Hall.

"This has been the worst experience of my life. My children have had to watch me become a shell of the person that I was before."

She says she's going public to protect other women and weighing her options about what to do next.

"All the pain that I'm going through right now is so it won't happen anymore. At City Hall, they let these councilpeople do whatever they want. They're like rock stars," she says.

"They get to pick whoever their staff is, they get to go wherever they want, they get to say whatever they want and there's no repercussions. And it's not okay."

Leary's lawyers call the city's handling of her complaint abnormal and inappropriate.

Attorney Jason Guinasso issued the following statement:

Marady Leary was a valued, productive, and content employee of the City of Las Vegas as Special Assistant to Councilman Steven Seroka.

With just cause, on February 25, 2019, Ms. Leary filed a human resources complaint against her immediate supervisor, Mr. Seroka. Within a few days of notification of the HR complaint, Mr. Seroka resigned from his councilman position, a position he fiercely fought to protect against a contentious recall campaign.

Although the HR complaint was intended and promised to be confidential, the City of Las Vegas allowed leaks of Ms. Leary’s private filing to media outlets.

Mr. Seroka’s and the City of Las Vegas’s respective illicit actions related to Ms. Leary are serious and legally actionable, for which she is continuing to consider her best options going forward.

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