Legal Ethics

Judge Kent Apologizes to His Family, But Not Claimed Sexual Abuse Victims


A federal judge described by his own lawyer as an alcoholic apologized to his family and the court staff today and described himself as “completely broken” before he was sentenced to 33 months in prison for obstruction of justice.

But U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent, who said he had been absolutely sober for 26 months, stared at the courtroom’s carpeted floor during much of the time that his former case manager and secretary spoke about his alleged sexual abuse of them and never directly referred to the two women, reports the Associated Press.

As part of a plea bargain earlier this year, Kent admitted he had nonconsensual sexual contact with the two. Under the plea bargain, five counts of aggravated sexual abuse that could have put him in prison for life were dismissed and Kent pleaded guilty only to the obstruction charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years.

Initially, Kent and his lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, denied the sex charges. Then, until a week or so before his February plea, they contended that any sexual contact between Kent and the women was consensual.

The judge’s former case manager, Cathy McBroom, 50, told Vinson today that she lost her marriage, her dream job and her home because of the “incredibly stressful” case over Kent’s sexual abuse, the AP recounts. “One would think I was the criminal,” she said.

Kent, 59, is still being paid his judicial salary under his lifetime appointment, according to the news agency. However, he has resigned from the state bar, DeGuerin said today.

The lawyer has said Kent would seek to retire early due to an unspecified disability. Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) has said he will seek Kent’s impeachment if he doesn’t resign, thus curtailing both his judicial salary and the possibility of a pension, the AP reports.

Earlier coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Federal Judge Kent Lied About ‘Affair’ to Protect Lady, His Lawyer Says”

ABAJournal.com: “Federal Judge Samuel Kent Indicted on New Sex and Obstruction Charges”

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