Hurricane Ike isn't the worst of problems for Sam Kent, who presides as judge over the Federal District Court over in Galveston. Ike's actually been a big help to Judge Kent.
Judge Kent has been indicted (formally charged) with three crimes: (1) two counts of abusive sexual contact and (2) one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse. His trial was initially set for the first week of November, in a Houston federal courtroom -- now that Ike's done its damage, the trial has just been moved back to January 2009.
First Federal Judge to ever be charged with federal sex crimes
Judge Kent is the first federal judge - ever - to be charged with federal sex crimes. If he is convicted, he could face life imprisonment and a fine of $250,000.00. Judge Kent is 59 years old.
What's the story? No one's denying something happened ...
Judge Kent's former case manager has said that the judge groped her, and tried to force her into a sexual act. The Department of Justice investigated, and these formal charges are the result of that investigation.
Judge Kent calls the charges “flagrant, scurrilous” (quoting the New York Times) and promises lots of witnesses will testify on his behalf. Judge Kent also told Fifth Circuit Judge Ed Prado, when he was asked to formally respond to these charges, “I plead absolutely, unequivocally not guilty and look very much forward to a trial on the merits.” (NYT)
His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, isn't denying that something happen between the judge and the employee; instead, DeGuerin has explained that what happened between them was consensual. “To charge Judge Kent of conduct of which he is absolutely innocent based on this kind of flimsy evidence is inexcusable and we will fight it to the bitter end,” DeGuerin said (quoting the Wall Street Journal).
In the meantime, the Judge is on the bench ....
Innocent until proven guilty, Judge Kent is still hearing cases from the bench.
New York Times
Wall Street Journal