Storey County pays former sheriff’s deputy $250,000 as part of out-of-court settlement over sexual harassment lawsuit

A former Storey County Sheriff’s deputy will receive $250,000 as part of an out-of-court settlement stemming from a sexual harassment lawsuit filed against county Sheriff Gerald Antinoro.

Representatives for Melanie Keener, the former sheriff’s deputy who sued Antinoro for sexual harassment in July 2017, announced Thursday that she will receive the settlement funds after her attorneys and attorneys for Storey County agreed to drop the lawsuit in federal court. As part of the settlement, Keener will leave employment with the county at the end of December and will receive paid administrative leave until her employment ends. 

The settlement, which will be paid by Storey County and was approved by the County Commission earlier this month, draws to a close a nearly two-year saga between Keener and Antinoro that drew substantial state and national media attention to the tiny county 30 miles southeast of Reno.

Keener, a 15-year police veteran, filed the lawsuit against Antinoro alleging sexual harassment and employment discrimination after she accused him of sending her sexually charged text messages during a 2015 law enforcement conference in Ely, and then sharing explicit details of his sex life during a car ride back the next day. Keener was removed from her position in the sheriff’s office after filing a sexual harassment complaint and transferred to a position at a county museum.

But Keener’s lawsuit and subsequent depositions of Antinoro and other county employees revealed that at least 10 complaints, including others involving sexual harassment, had been filed against Antinoro during his time in office. Although an investigation by former Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office did not find Antinoro had committed any “criminal offenses” that fell within the statute of limitations, news of his behavior in office quickly became toxic and a political issue in several 2018 races. Antinoro, who beat back a recall effort in 2017, was elected to another four-year term in the 2018 midterm elections.