I previously wrote about Judge Sam Kent here and here. He was a Federal Judge in Galveston, Texas. Even before the allegations arose, he was known as a bullying sort of judge and one who was generally opposed to discrimination lawsuits. Allegations arose that he was harassing female members of his staff. He attacked and groped one woman, Cathy McBroom. He pressed her against the wall in his office lifted up her blouse and bra and put his mouth on her breast. The Houston Chronicle reporter, Lise Olsen, who broke the story, has written a book about the scandal.
Her book recounts the considerable pressure Ms. McBroom was under to not make waves. Even other female court employees told her to let it go. Other women who had been harassed by Judge Kent told her she should keep quiet.
Worse, one female judge on the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Edith Jones, chaired a panel charged with investigating and recommending punishment. Judge Jones’ committee recommended four months suspension for the serial harasser. Rick Casey, who worked at the Chronicle at the time of the scandal, tells us that Judge Jones minimized the severity of Judge Kent’s crimes. Judge Kent could have been prosecuted for assault with two years in jail for what he did to Ms. McBroom. Mr. Casey adds that Judge Jones has long been consistently hostile to discrimination victims and sex harassment victims in particular. Casey mentions the case in 1989 when Judge Jones heard a sex harassment case.
On that case in 1989, a female worker had been grabbed and groped at work. She had been propositioned. These allegations came up during the hearing. Judge asked, “They didn’t rape her, did they?” apparently suggesting her treatment was not that bad. The lawyer responded that one co-worker had pinched her breast. Judge Jones replied, “Well, he apologized.”
Judge Jones, like Judge Kent, has long been viewed as hostile to discrimination victims. She herself faced her own accusations of making discriminatory comments in 2013. See my prior post about that accusation here.
Later, Judge Kent was transferred to the courts in Houston. He was then indicted for abusive sexual contact and attempted aggravated sexual abuse of a female employee. He was found guilty and sentenced to 33 months in prison. He resigned his bench only after Congress impeached him in 2009. See Rick Casey’s column here.