On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent became the first federal judge in history to be indicted for sex crimes, specifically abusive sexual contact and attempted aggravated sexual abuse of case manager Cathy McBroom. This ignoble moment will likely be followed by impeachment in Congress, though traditionally the House will wait for the conclusion of the criminal prosecution.
McBroom says that Kent touched her under her clothing twice and often made obscene statements to her over the course of six years. McBroom said that the most serious attack occurred in a little-used exercise room at the Galveston courthouse in August 2003. In March 2007, she alleged that Kent physically touched her under her clothing, put his mouth on her breast and made obscene comments to her in his chambers. He is also accused of attempted aggravated sexual abuse related to his alleged attempt during the March 2007 incident to force McBroom’s mouth toward his groin.
The indictment charges that he made the contact “with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass (and) degrade.”
McBroom issued a statement: “After a very difficult 17 months, I feel like I have finally been validated. I have listened and read with horror as Judge Kent’s lawyer suggested that what happened to me was ‘enthusiastically consensual.’ I am relieved to find that even federal judges are not above the law, and that sexual abuse in the workplace is never acceptable, no matter the status of the offender.”
McBroom alleged that when she immediately reported the incident to her supervisor, who did nothing.
Kent has been reprimanded by the 5th Circuit over the incidents. He is now only the sixth judge in the last 30 years to be charged with a federal crime — the last being the bribery indictment (and later conviction) of U.S. District Judge Robert Collins of Louisiana in 1993.
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