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Federal judge sentenced for lying in sexual harassment investigation

[JURIST] US District Judge Samuel Kent [official profile] was sentenced Tuesday to 33 months in prison for obstruction of justice [18 USC § 1512(c)(2) text] for lying to a judicial panel [Fifth Circuit materials] investigating sexual harassment allegations against him. Kent was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and $6,550 in restitution as part of a plea agreement [text, PDF; JURIST report] in which prosecutors dropped additional charges against Kent and limited the amount of jail time he could have faced. Despite the sentence, Kent technically retains a pension for his judgeship, though US House Judiciary Committee members John Conyers (D-MI) and Lamar Smith (R-TX) [official websites] have said they will seek his impeachment [Houston Chronicle report] if he does not resign and forfeit the pension.

Kent's plea prevented him from becoming the first federal judge to go on trial for sexual harassment. He was indicted [text, PDF] last August, and was initially charged with the sexual harassment of his former case manager. Charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of his secretary were added [ABA Journal report] in January. In 2007, the American Bar Association (ABA) [professional association] adopted new policies reforming the Model Code of Judicial Conduct [JURIST report], which for the first time included prohibitions against sexual harassment, although some advocacy groups believe these changes do not go far enough [AP report].

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