Multiple women accuse 9th Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski of sexual misconduct

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Alex Kozinski

Judge Alex Kozinski.

Six former clerks or externs for the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals have told the Washington Post that Judge Alex Kozinski subjected them to inappropriate sexual comments or behavior.

All six accuse the judge of inappropriate sexual comments and behavior that made them uncomfortable. Two who were his former clerks told the newspaper that Kozinski asked them to look at pornography in his chambers. Four of the women asked the Post to withhold their names and other information that could identify them, saying they were concerned about retaliation.

“I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them,” Kozinski said in a statement to the newspaper. “I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”

One of those who went on the record is Heidi Bond, who clerked for Kozinski from 2006 to 2007. (She now writes romance novels under the name Courtney Milan, the Washington Post reports.) Bond said Kozinski called her into his office three times to look at pornography on his computer, then asked her if it aroused her or if she thought it was digitally manipulated. She said she’d say no to the questions about arousal, then ask if he needed anything else.

Bond and a friend of hers both produced emails showing Bond had discussed the situation with the friend in 2008.

Emily Murphy clerked for a different judge on the 9th Circuit, Judge Richard Paez, but met Kozinski at a reception for clerks in 2012. Kozinski heard Murphy comment that the gym in the court’s San Francisco courthouse was nice because it was rarely used. Kozinski suggested that Murphy should therefore work out naked. Murphy and two others who were there tried to steer the conversation to other topics, but Kozinski kept bringing it back up.

Another former Kozinski clerk, who asked to remain anonymous, said the judge had also showed her pornography. That clerk also said Kozinski had showed her a chart he’d made with friends about all the women they’d had sex with. Former externs told the Post about sexual comments at work and lingering glances, including one who said the judge lifted a tablecloth in order to look at her legs.

More than one of the women said they didn’t file complaints because Kozinski was a powerful judge who could hurt their careers, and might not suffer any consequences. Murphy discussed filing a complaint with a supportive Paez, the Post says, but decided against it because the complaint would first go to Kozinski himself.

The Post also contacted dozens of former Kozinski clerks and externs who said they’d experienced no harassment, and that working for him had been a rewarding experience.

Kozinski has been in trouble before for a cavalier attitude toward sexual materials and humor. In 2008, it was discovered that he’d posted sexually explicit materials and copyrighted mp3s to his personal website, as well as maintaining a mailing list that sent out crude jokes. An investigation ultimately found that Kozinski hadn’t intended for it to be made public, but had exercised poor judgment “that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the institution of the federal judiciary.”

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