U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent will be arraigned this morning on the new charges. He was indicted by a grand jury Tuesday on new charges of sexually abusing another court employee and lying about it to prominent federal judges who investigated a misconduct complaint against him. His trial on the prior allegations was scheduled for January 26th before U.S. Senior Judge Roger Vinson, of Florida.
Kent is accused of sexually abusing his former case manager, Cathy McBroom. In 2007, McBroom filed a formal judicial misconduct complaint with the 5th Circuit judicial council alleging that the judge physically touched her under her clothing twice and often made obscene suggestions during the six years she worked for him.
The same grand jury that indicted Kent in August added three additional charges Tuesday involving a second female court employee: aggravated sexual abuse, abusive sexual contact and obstruction of justice. The indictment accuses Kent of forcing the second court employee to repeatedly “engage in a sexual act,” including oral sex and using his hands to “penetrate or attempt to penetrate” her.
The addition of a second victim in such cases is always highly damaging for the defense. Jurors tend to believe allegations made by two different women of abuse. The defense will have the considerable task of knocking down both women on the stand — a difficult matter that risks triggering sympathy for the women before the jury. The additional allegations also moves the indictment from fondling to a more serious level of sexual contact. Finally, the new charges include obstruction of justice which is easier to prove than sexual assault and carried as 20 year sentence.
Kent faces a potential life imprisonment sentence for this conduct.
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