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May 11, 2009

More (disturbing?) details emerging about crimes and sentencing of former Judge Kent

The US Department of Justice has this official press release concerning today's federal sentencing of former federal judge Samuel Kent.  It provides this summary review of the charges involved in Kent's indictment and plea:

U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for obstruction of justice related to an investigation of a judicial misconduct complaint filed against him....

On Aug. 28, 2008, a grand jury in the Southern District of Texas indicted Kent, who was at that time a sitting U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas, on two counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse for his alleged assaults in 2003 and 2007 on an employee of the Office of the Clerk of Court identified as Person A.  On Jan. 6, 2009, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Kent.  The superseding indictment incorporated the original charges and added three counts: one count each of abusive sexual contact and aggravated sexual abuse, based on Kent’s alleged repeated assaults on another U.S. District Court employee identified as Person B, and one count of obstruction of justice, based upon his obstruction of the Fifth Circuit’s investigation into a misconduct complaint filed by Person A.

On Feb. 23, 2009, Kent pleaded guilty to obstructing the judicial misconduct investigation into his sexual assaults. As part of his plea, Kent admitted that in both 2003 and 2007, he engaged in non-consensual sexual contact with Person A without her permission. He also admitted that he engaged in non-consensual contact from 2004 through at least 2005 with Person B without her permission.

Kent was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine as well as restitution of $3,300 to Person A and $3,250 to Person B.  Kent was ordered to surrender on June 15, 2009.

The fact that Kent was allowed, on the eve of trial, to plead guilty to only a single obstruction count has always disturbed me.  And information emerging from this new Texas Lawyer article about the sentencing reinforces many of my concerns:

The sentencing hearing included testimony from two former courthouse employees who alleged Kent had assaulted them.  Cathy McBroom, Kent’s former case manager, told Vinson, “I will forever be scarred” by what happened to her in Galveston.

She said that she would avoid Kent at the courthouse when he was intoxicated. “Being molested and groped by a drunken giant is not my idea of an affair,” McBroom said, noting that Kent falsely told others that she was pursuing him.

 The other woman, Donna Wilkerson, who worked as Kent’s secretary, said Kent “maliciously manipulated and controlled everyone around him.” She also said, “My life is forever changed.”

Hmmm... and restitution awards of a few thousand dollars are supposed to be fitting in this case?  For that matter, while I am asking questions about the outcome here, since Kent was allowed to plead only to an obstruction count, I am not sure of the basis for awarding restitution since, technically, the two women that Kent molested were not actually victims of his act of obstruction.  In the end, though, according to the Texas Lawyer article, it seems that the victims are content with outcome:

Following the sentencing, both women said they were pleased with the sentence, with McBroom noting, “You don’t have to put up with it, no matter who the person is.”

Related posts on the Kent proceedings:

May 11, 2009 at 03:59 PM | Permalink


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Really shows that this guy is a jerk. Assaulting a woman and then besmirching her reputation--real classy.

Posted by: federalist | May 11, 2009 4:26:42 PM

I disagree.

First of all, he was a Republican, so he has a lot more morality than half of the country.

Second of all, he went to a good law school. I also spoke to many people that applied to clerk for him, and not a single one said that they would apply to clerk for a jerk.

He was also confirmed by an “up or down” vote by the Senate. Therefore, I don’t think it is possible that he could be a jerk.

He also sentenced many criminals to jail, so he is definitely a good and moral person and not a jerk.

Posted by: S.cotus | May 11, 2009 4:57:19 PM

Since he is above average in morality; went to a "good" law school; was obviously not a jerk; was confirmed by the Senate; and, sent many criminals to jail, he clearly meets the standard to remain out on bond while his case is on appeal to the Fifth Circuit.

Posted by: Mark#1 | May 11, 2009 6:25:02 PM

I think he is not guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and in view of his record of intelligence and public service he should remain free pending appeal as well as pending collateral attack on his sentence.

When Congress confirmed him, the people spoke. Now unelected prosecutors seek to put him in jail.

Posted by: S.cotus | May 11, 2009 9:54:17 PM

Your observation about the potential problem with restitution (that the women are not victims of the obstruction count) is a good one.

I hope that the plea agreement contains a waiver of appeal, and/or that Judge Kent has the basic common decency not to try to escape payment on those grounds.

Yes, the easy retort is that one with basic decency wouldn't be in this position. But one can hope that the newfound humility that led him to plead will also lead him to pay these very small sums and to serve his time quietly.

Posted by: Def. Atty. | May 12, 2009 10:49:02 AM

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