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Brothel owner and GOP Nevada Assembly nominee Dennis Hof under investigation on rape allegations

Brothel owner and GOP Nevada Assembly nominee Dennis Hof under investigation on rape allegations
Brothel owner Dennis Hof is pictured at the Love Ranch brothel in May. (Isaac Brekken / Los Angeles Times)

Brothel owner and Republican Nevada Assembly nominee Dennis Hof is being investigated by state authorities in connection with sexual assault and rape allegations made over Labor Day weekend.

The Nevada Department of Public Safety confirmed the investigation Wednesday, but wouldn’t comment on any specifics.

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“Based on a request from the Carson City Sheriff’s Office, the Nevada Department of Public Safety, Investigation Division, is conducting an investigation into sexual assault allegations against Dennis Hof,” the department said in a statement. “As this is an ongoing investigation, no further information can be provided at this time.”

But Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong said his detective interviewed a woman who showed up at a local hospital Sunday alleging Hof had raped her.

Furlong said that after the detective conducted an initial interview with the woman, the department turned the case over to state authorities to investigate.

Hof locked up the Republican nomination for a seat in the Assembly, Nevada’s lower legislative house, in a district that spans three rural counties when he upset incumbent James Oscarson in the June primary. In November, he will face Lesia Romanov, a Democrat who is considered an underdog in this deeply Republican area of the state.

But his nomination has been fraught with controversy, including revelations from former sex workers who contend that Hof sexually assaulted them while working in his brothels in the past.

Hof’s campaign released a statement Wednesday saying the candidate has spoken with investigators and is “cooperating fully” with state authorities.

“While he has his suspicions, at this time Mr. Hof does not know exactly what the allegations are, who made them or when the alleged incident supposedly took place,” the statement read. “Nevertheless he completely and totally denies that any such incident occurred and believes the allegations are groundless and politically motivated.”

Hof said via text message that he couldn’t comment further on the new allegations.

The brothel owner and reality TV personality on “Cathouse” has billed himself as “the Trump of Pahrump,” the town west of Las Vegas, and has run as a political outsider. He has been at odds with some of the established Republican candidates in Nevada, several of whom have refused to endorse his candidacy.

U.S. Sen. Dean Heller, the Republican incumbent locked in a tight race with Democrat Jacky Rosen, refused to endorse him, as has Adam Laxalt, the Republican candidate for governor. Still, Hof recently hired trucks to drive around Pahrump with billboards that read, “Laxalt. Hof. Heller. The winning team.”

Hof, 71, has also regularly battled with officials in Nye County, where his Love Ranch brothel is located.

Last month, the Love Ranch was closed after the county determined he had been late paying his brothel license fees. But a federal judge ordered the county to restore Hof’s license and reopen the business after he decided the county’s actions were in retaliation for an existing 1st Amendment lawsuit Hof had filed against two county commissioners.

The Nevada Independent, an online publication, first reported the rape investigation Tuesday night.

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