Illinois Judge Facing Disciplinary Action over Viewing Porn at Work Admits Longtime Addiction

An Illinois judge facing disciplinary charges for viewing pornography on his courthouse computer has tearfully admitted being addicted to porn since childhood.

“I used pornography as a crutch to deal with my feelings of inadequacy,” Will County Judge Joseph C. Polito told the Illinois Courts Commission at a hearing Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. “For 60 years this was an inner conflict—I was ashamed, I didn’t feel good about it and tried to stop. The only way I knew to address it was in a confession with a priest.”

Polito, 69, was charged in July with two counts of violating the state’s judicial code of conduct after an article in the Sun-Times revealed that he regularly looked at pornographic websites on his office computer.

He admits the first charge, that his actions “brought the judicial office into disrepute,” but denies the second, that he had not conducted himself in a manner that “promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

Polito told commissioners that while he had looked at porn in his chambers before his court call began and after his court call had ended, it had “absolutely no effect on the hundreds of decisions” he had made as a judge.

He also said he has sought professional help for a compulsive sexual disorder, adding that he attends a Sexuality Anonymous support group twice a week and hasn’t used porn in more than a year.

“This is a shameful and humbling experience,” he said. “I acknowledge I did not uphold the high standards of conduct my position required.”

The courts commission, which will issue a written ruling at a later date, could discipline Polito with anything from a reprimand to termination.

Following the hearing, John Gallo, who represents the Judicial Inquiry Board, said that viewing porn in the workplace has been grounds for other state employees to be fired, though he praised Polito for being “honest to his own detriment.”

The judge’s public embarrassment should be punishment enough, claimed William J. Martin, Polito’s attorney.

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