“Abuse of power” is in the news, and not just because of the impeachment investigation in Washington. There talk of another impeachment under those terms…in Kentucky.
A Covington, KY family court judge is facing a laundry list of soap opera-esque accusations that include sex and drinking in the courthouse, coercion, and making advances toward attorneys working in her courtroom. People also allege that she made improper hiring decisions based on personal relationships and retaliated against others. In short, people say she had affairs and group sex, drank on government property, and allowed her cohorts to act unprofessionally. They also claim she used her position to solicit campaign donations from staff and attorneys. It’s a notable list of offenses, some salacious in detail, and many are clear abuse of power if true.
Corruption in Kentucky?
Judges are held to higher ethical standards than most professions for obvious reasons. But this type of behavior is unethical and unprofessional in any environment. Kenton County Judge Dawn Gentry was appointed as judge in 2016 and won election in 2018. She is an elected official in a position of power. People expect her to behave accordingly. She has denied most of the allegations, though she admits to some of the less bawdry accusations, including allowing her staff’s children to witness confidential hearings and to sending inappropriate Snapchat messages.
What does it mean for justice?
A professional reputation is one thing, but justice is another. The judge’s name is tarnished and it’s hard to take her court seriously. It also makes people wonder about her judicial decisions – were previous rulings fair and impartial, or were they part of the alleged web of corruption? If the reports are true, innocent people may be paying the price for another person’s lust.
While the story itself is full of juicy allegations that would fit the tabloids, it’s also important to remember that allegations are not always true. Being in the public eye can draw negative attention and accusations. The judge was recently divorced as well, something she has in common with the recent Katie Hill scandal in Congress.
In Kentucky, an investigation is likely and maybe even impeachment. If her judgment was corrupt, what should happen to the cases she decided?