Marilyn York and her law firm are being sued by a former employee — in response, York alleges extortion scheme
A lawsuit against local attorney Marilyn York and her father got its first court hearing yesterday.
The judge was not happy.
Washoe County Second Judicial Court Judge Egan Walker mainly chastised the plaintiff’s attorney, Jason Guinasso, for what he said were attorneys in the case “creating emergencies.”
Sexual harassment, defamation alleged
Public defender Tirza Mathews is suing York and her father claiming the father, Ray York, “groomed” her for sexual exploitation. Mathews was hired by York into her law firm in 2021, moved to Reno and began living in Ray’s RV at his residence. She alleges Ray then started engaging in inappropriate, sexually harassing behavior toward her.
Guinasso issued a press release Jan. 3 announcing the lawsuit. The release was sent to local news media as well as news outlets in Elko, Carson City and Las Vegas.
Allegations include unwanted sexual advances, ongoing sexual harassment and defamation. A website purporting to reveal personal and professional details of Mathews’ life was published and ranked high in search engines for Mathews’ name. That website went dark after the lawsuit was filed. Mathews also alleges forged letters containing falsehoods about her were mailed to colleagues.
“Mr. York has gone to great lengths to try to defame Ms. Mathews. He has sent letters to her employer and colleagues and even went as far as generating a website with the sole purpose of defaming Ms. Mathews,” Guinasso’s press release notes. “This lawsuit seeks to stop Mr. York’s continuous harassment and to demand accountability from all those involved. Additionally, the lawsuit seeks an order for injunction prohibiting Mr. York from contacting Ms. Mathews and publishing defamatory statements about her.”
Extortion scheme alleged
A flurry of emails and legal filings have appeared in the case, which led to judge Walker holding a hearing yesterday (watch it below). Marilyn York, who is being represented by attorney Mark Simons, fired back against the allegations.
“Mathews commenced [a] scheme to induce sexual advances from Ray W. York,” Simons wrote. “This scheme entailed false signs of affection, deceptive communications with York inducing him into a false belief that Mathews had consensual feelings for him and her deceitful intentions to lure York into believing Mathews had true feelings of affection for him.”
Simons said Mathews was hired by York June 14, 2021 and by July 10 started conspiring to go after York and her father. York provided Mathews moving expenses and a loan, which Simons said remains unpaid. By Nov. 1, she began working for the Hutchison & Steffen law firm, which represents her, Simons said.
Mathews now works as an alternate public defender for Washoe County.
“The facts of the case show this was a manufactured lawsuit perpetrated to extort money from a well-established business,” Simons said. Mathews attempted to get $70,000 for lost wages and benefits prior to filing the lawsuit.
“The entire purpose of Mathews scheme was to initiate this lawsuit after the defendants declined to be extorted and pay Mathews, Guinasso and [Hutchison & Steffen] to act as her attorneys to further her scheme of extorting money,” Simons wrote. “Rather than coming forth with an alleged report of sexual harassment, Mathews secretly hired a law firm to represent her (and subsequently hire her) then orchestrated a pretextual sexual harassment claim…”
York is seeking to have Guinasso disqualified from the case. She is alleging a conflict of interest. Mathews worked for Hutchison & Steffen, Guinasso is allegedly a witness in aspects of the case and “Guinasso and H&S had to extend themselves to engage in as offensive behavior as possible,” which included having the lawsuit served to York on Christmas Day.
Guinasso denied there was a conflict of interest.
Ray York has not responded to the complaint – other than to request an extension to respond – and recently hired an attorney. Frank Gilmore is now representing him.
Guinasso refused to grant an extension and told Gilmore he would file for a default win on the case if Gilmore did not file a response within days.
“Defendants’ counsel emailed Plaintiff’s counsel and asked for a two-week extension to file a response to the Amended Complaint on the basis that he had only recently been engaged. Plaintiff’s counsel refused, giving no explanation other than he had already provided an extension to Defendant Ray,” Gilmore wrote. “When pressed for a reason why the extension could not be given, Plaintiff’s counsel did not respond.”
Walker orders hearing
Judge Walker appeared unhappy at the back-and-forth filings between the defendants and plaintiff.
“Emergencies are being created rather than the normal process of a lawsuit,” he said. “The complaint in this case is rather extraordinary. I suppose we may discuss on a different day, at a different time, whether the language and details contained in the complaint were intended to give notice of claims as opposed to create a certain environment around this lawsuit.”
He further said the case had gone “off the rails” and that Guinasso’s refusal to extend the response time was concerning.
Guinasso admitted he “took a hard line” due to “exigent circumstances” in the case.
Walker shot back and called Guinasso’s obstinance “a waste of time.”
“We are not designed to act in emergent, after-hours circumstances – except the gravest incidents, literally life and death,” Walker said. “And nothing in this case represents life and death, and you all need to keep that in line. This is not the kind of case where you all need to jam each other up or the court up unnecessarily.”
Walker ordered a case management hearing in April to resolve issues.
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