Federal Judge Gets Three Years, Probation in Sex Case

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Houston, TX—In the first sex-abuse case ever brought against a sitting federal judge, U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent has been sentenced to nearly three years in prison.

The judge pled guilty to obstruction of justice in February, in an agreement to avoid a trial on not only the obstruction charge but also five charges of sex crimes. The case was first brought against Kent by his former case manager, Cathy McBroom, and then expanded to include allegations from Donna Wilkerson, the judge’s secretary, who both claimed that they had been harassed and sexually abused by Kent, and that they were so frightened of him that they sometimes didn’t answer courthouse phones.

McBroom said that she had been abused for four years. Wilkerson claimed seven years’ worth of abuse, beginning on her fifth day of employment as his secretary. Although defense counsel alleged that she had been a willing participant in a sexual affair, she denied those allegations. Kent, in accordance with his plea deal, admitted that the sexual conduct with both women was non-consensual.

The five sex-crime charges were dismissed, but Kent must complete three years’ probation after his sentence is finished, as well as an alcohol-abuse program while in prison. Had he been convicted of the sex-crime charges, Kent could have received up to 20 years in prison. The obstruction charge stemmed from Kent’s having lied to federal investigators about the allegations.

The 59-year-old, who was the only federal judge in Galveston, TX, must also pay a $1,000 fine, as well as over $6,000 in restitution to the two women.

Democratic Representative John Conyers, who is the chairman of the U.S. House Judiciary Committee, and the committee’s ranking Republican, Lamar Smith, issued a statement calling for Kent’s resignation. If that is not proffered, the two “intend to introduce a resolution jointly…to commence an inquiry into whether ground exist to impeach hi and remove him from office,” said the statement.

An attorney for Kent, Dick DeGuerin, said that the judge, an alcoholic, had recently been hospitalized for stress-related problems, and that he would be retiring due to a disability. Retired federal judges collect full salaries– in Kent’s case, $169,300 annually – for the rest of their lives.

In the courtroom, after his sentence was issued, Kent apologized to his wife and family, as well as to the court staff, but never named McBroom or Wilkerson.

 

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