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OPINION: Denton investigation lacks transparency, protection for victims who speak out


By Natalie Henriques

I’m writing this asking for the serious need for the protection of our vulnerable and brave victims in our community to be heard and to feel safe. I’ve ignorantly expected justice to be served or even considered by our elected officials who we voted for. We are their constituents, not the other way around. We voted for them, and they work for us. 

I recently spoke in support of a local victim in our recovery community at the Washoe Board of County Commissioners meeting exposing abuse about a community leader named Grant Denton on May 28. Denton runs the Safe Camp part of the Nevada Cares Campus.

This abuse and the many allegations were not foreign to me. I have always protected the vulnerable population I worked with; therefore, never shared anything as they weren’t my stories. But I listened. I took mental notes. 

Here’s the thing: I believe victims, as I am one. 

There is nothing pleasant about outing someone who abused you. It makes you, first and foremost, re-live the trauma, then comes the sheer trauma of speaking out about it. In this particular instance, he was in the room with his lawyer and that led to the immediate feeling of intimidation in the moment and knowing more would follow. Then comes the aftermath and fear of everyone questioning everything about you as a valid human while reliving the trauma the whole time. 

The threats we fear are valid—every day. Then to learn that Washoe County and both cities of Reno and Sparks knew about it for years and are all choosing to bury it in their own special interests is something else that makes us feel absolutely unsafe. He’s dated powerful people in the city and the county. 

So I ask: Where do we stand without power unless we stand together and collectively care about one another and use our voices? Who actually cares about our community that needs it the most? The sheer mental pain and abuse that is re-lived is not measurable. Who will ever believe us? 

Sending cease-and-desist letters to his victims hardly screams, “I’m innocent!” What are you hiding outside of what we already know? Accountability, I think not – from him nor from our government protecting and hiding his abuse. 

This is unacceptable. We deserve safety and proper investigations. How will we ever be able to speak out again if nothing happens? What does this say to our vulnerable communities and those who advocate for them? 

I’m not silent anymore. Washoe County should externally investigate this properly and with transparency. It should also be noted to the public that the investigations are only interrogating Safe Camp employees and residents, who were warned about how to interview in certain ways to protect Grant. 

Of course, Washoe County is going to get the answers it wants from vulnerable people fearing losing their housing and/or jobs by speaking the truth. Again, they are supporting a toxic environment for both staff and residents to protect a predator in our community. 

I’m no longer contracted by the county for employment, so I personally feel the power to share this with the community.

Natalie is a local community advocate supporting vulnerable communities around issues with housing injustice, reproductive rights, and issues around sexual assault.

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