A Kentucky judge accused of using sex and booze to turn her courtroom into a virtual frat house was kicked off the bench by a judicial panel on Monday.
A five-member judicial commission voted unanimously to remove Kenton County Family Court Judge Dawn Gentry, who was suspended with pay in December pending a misconduct probe, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported.
Gentry, 39, was accused of creating a rowdy atmosphere at the courthouse, hiring her boyfriend and bandmate, allowing drinking during work hours, and using sex, coercion, and retaliation against lawyers and court employees who didn’t back her political campaigns, the outlet said.
“This case does not involve one or two isolated occurrences, but instead involves a pattern of misconduct and repeated exercise of extremely poor judgment — on and off the bench — by the respondent that continued for over a year, including after respondent was informed that a complaint was filed with the commission against her,” the commission wrote in its decision.
The commission added that judges, “should aspire at all times to conduct that ensures the greatest public confidence in their independence, impartiality, integrity, and competence.”
“Respondent failed in essentially every respect of this fundamental rule applicable to all judges.”
Among the allegations, Gentry was accused of forcing a veteran courthouse employee to resign so she could hire Stephen Penrose, a former pastor, and her reputed paramour, and kept nude photos of him on her cell phone, the Enquirer said.
The judge also propositioned her secretary, Laura Aubrey, to engage in a threesome with her and Penrose, the allegations said.
Aubrey testified during the misconduct hearing that the three later pulled a prank by making grunting noises inside the judge’s chambers for other employees to hear, the outlet reported.
Courthouse custodians, clerks, and other staffers testified to finding empty liquor bottles inside the chambers, and would also hear singing and guitar playing coming from behind the door.
One attorney, Katherine Schulz, told the panel that Gentry kissed her in a courthouse bathroom and also propositioned her for a threesome, which the lawyer said she turned down.
The judge was also accused of retaliating against attorneys who declined to support or work on her 2018 re-election campaign, typically holding out on lucrative guardianship assignments as punishment.
Gentry’s lawyer, Jeff Lawson, called the commission’s decision “the equivalent of the judicial death penalty,” and said she would appeal the ruling. The judge has 10 days to file.
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