Courthouse made excuses for 'creepy' behavior from judge accused of sexual harassment, former intern says

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A Michigan judge who also served as an adjunct law professor is leaving the bench, after a Michigan State University investigation found it likely that he sexually harassed an intern, who was a student at the law school.

Judge Joseph Farah of the 7th Circuit Court in Genesee County, Michigan, did not respond to an ABA Journal interview request. Michigan Radio reported Aug. 11 that Farah declined to participate in interviews or hearings for the MSU investigation, but he did submit a written statement denying the allegations. It centered on reasoning that he had been a judge for some time, but the investigation found that his arguments were not credible on several key allegations, according to the article.

An Aug. 10 MLive.com post reported that Farah was retiring, effective Nov. 9. Farah was appointed to the bench in 1998 and oversaw many high-profile cases, WJRT reports.

Linda Greene, the law school’s dean, did not respond to a Journal interview request. Farah was an adjunct professor until May 15, 2021, according to Michigan Radio.

Grace Ketzner, the accuser and a former intern, gave the station permission to use her name. Another person who interned for Farah and wanted to remain anonymous also made a statement about him to the MSU office. The second person claimed that people at the courthouse knew of Farah’s alleged behavior, but they brushed it off as “creepy.”

Allegations include:

    • Farah repeatedly asking Ketzner for lunch, drinks and on work trips and then ignoring her, as well as spreading negative feedback after she rejected his overtures.

    • Farah telling another intern that she had to be with an older man who would treat her right and then trying to deter other judges from hiring her as a law clerk.

    • Farah telling Ketzner that he doesn’t like country music but went to a country music festival because many women there wore thong bikinis.

    • Farah asking Ketzner to be a “typist” for a book that he was writing. It was about a woman meeting an older man who becomes her boss and “teaches her how to explore herself” sexually.

Additionally, Ketzner claims that she and Farah had separate plans to visit Nashville, Tennessee, during the same days. When he found out, he allegedly booked himself on the same flight. According to Ketzner, Farah said maybe he would see her and her friends if they wanted free drinks.

A July decision from the MSU Resolution Office found that evidence in the record supported the assertion that Farah violated university policy prohibiting sexual harassment and harassment on the basis of sex. The office did not find that Farah violated the university’s stalking policy.

Ketzner told Michigan Radio that she filed a grievance against Farah with the Michigan Judicial Tenure Commission. She claims that the commission recently told her that an agreement had been reached with Farah, and there would not be a public hearing.

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