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Top Vegas Public Defender Disciplined In Sex Harassment Case

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The head of the public defender's office in Las Vegas received unspecified discipline following a sexual harassment investigation, officials said Thursday.

Public Defender Phil Kohn was found to have made "inappropriate comments of a sexual nature in the workplace and engaged in inappropriate physical behavior toward employees," Clark County Manager Yolanda King said in a statement.

King declined to release the investigative findings, calling the report a personnel matter. She did not specify the "appropriate disciplinary actions" that she said were taken against Kohn.

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County spokesman Erik Pappa declined additional comment.

Kohn did not respond to telephone or email messages. An automatic email reply said he was out of the office from Aug. 24 to Sept. 14.

Kohn was appointed in April 2004 to head an office with more than 200 employees, including lawyers who are appointed by courts at public expense to represent criminal defendants who cannot afford to hire their own.

The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which first reported that Kohn had been disciplined, said he announced recently that he will retire in January.

King told the newspaper that Kohn's retirement announcement was not connected with the sexual harassment investigation. She also said that the investigation, which began in March, was conducted by a Las Vegas law firm to make it independent.

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King said making the report public, even with names of alleged victims and witnesses blacked out, could discourage employees from providing information in future investigations.