A woman claims in a federal lawsuit that her relationship with her boss, a Maryland judge, started as consensual but became abusive.
(CN) — A former jury commissioner and law librarian says the judge who got her the job forced her to have sex with him in court chambers and threatened to fire her and destroy "everyone she knew" if she stopped providing sexual favors.
In a lawsuit filed Monday in federal district court in Maryland, Loriann Ludwig says Garrett County Circuit Court Judge Raymond G. Strubin called her into work and told her "she should provide him with 50 blow jobs to celebrate her birthday."
"When Ludwig refused, Strubin became enraged, and forcibly had sex with Ludwig, without her consent," the complaint alleges.
The April 2019 incident was "part of a 4-year period during which Strubin required Ludwig to regularly have sex with him to keep her job," the suit, filed by Sammy Y. Sugiura of Cohen and Grace in Pittsburgh, claims. "The terror that Ludwig experienced during this period — which included Strubin repeatedly telling Ludwig that if she did not have sex with him, she would lose her health insurance and not be able to receive life-saving cancer treatments — remains with her to this day."
Strubin, who was raised to the bench by then-Governor Martin O'Malley in 2014, did not immediately respond to a message left with his law clerk, or an email directed to his court email address.
The civil complaint details a relationship that began as consensual but allegedly progressed to abuse, leaving the victim trapped in a job that required her to service the judge sexually several times per week while undergoing breast cancer treatment. It also alleges that circuit court judges in Maryland are unsupervised and disciplined only rarely by the Commission on Judicial Disabilities. "As a result, harassment by judges ... can go unchecked for years. Sometimes, indefinitely," the complaint states.
There are 173 circuit court judges in Maryland, with Strubin being the only one in Garrett County, where he also serves as the administrative judge.
The lawsuit says Strubin was responsible for implementing the judiciary's equal employment opportunity policies, but did not: "The Maryland Judiciary’s failure to implement any meaningful oversight over the training and implementation of the EEO Policy allows judges to act with impunity in the workplace."
Strubin began his relationship with Ludwig in 2009, the complaint says, adding that both were married and made time for each other during work hours. After his appointment as a judge, Strubin arranged for Ludwig's position as a jury commissioner/law librarian — a position for which she was not qualified, the complaint alleges. "Strubin insisted that Ludwig take the job so that they would have more time for their romantic relationship at work," according to the complaint.
"Ludwig genuinely believed that she was in a relationship with Strubin and would often rendezvous with Strubin at the local golf club for drinks and area motels for sex during work hours," the complaint states. The judge also allegedly took Ludwig on business trips.
Soon, he was demanding sex in his chambers, according to the complaint, and she complied.
In 2015, Ludwig says she tried to end the sexual relationship. "Strubin, however, told Ludwig that if she stopped having sex with him, he would fire her," the lawsuit states.
"If other employees were present, Strubin would use hand signals to tell Ludwig when he wanted to have sex," the complaint states. "For instance, if Strubin made a Vulcan salute hand gesture, it meant that he wanted to have sex that day. Ludwig would have to acknowledge this hand gesture by immediately calling or messaging Strubin and asking him, 'are you sitting at your desk?' If Strubin responded with a 'yes', Ludwig would have to come to his chambers at 4:30pm for sex."
Ludwig's continued attempts to end the relationship "enraged Strubin," the lawsuit says, adding that "Strubin then began proclaiming that he was more powerful than God and that if Ludwig stopped having sex with him, he would ruin her life and the lives of everyone she knew."
Ludwig says she was ready to quit the job when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now she needed the health insurance, and Strubin used that to keep her in his sexual service, the lawsuit says. "Strubin would often tell Ludwig that he liked the changes to her body because it felt like he was dating someone new," the complaint states. "Strubin would also ask Ludwig to wear different wigs to work because it allowed him to imagine that he was having sex with a different girl each time Ludwig changed her wig."
After an April 2019 incident, in which Strubin allegedly slammed Ludwig's head on a desk and ripped off her clothes, she began alcohol rehabilitation and mental health treatments, and filed charges with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, the lawsuit says. The Maryland Office of Attorney General defended Strubin, according to the lawsuit. "Their investigation, however, appears to have been limited to speaking with Strubin and other employees of the Circuit Court for Garrett County," the lawsuit says, and the commissions ultimately sided with the judge, citing the unique language he drafted in her employment contract "so that certain federal and state anti-discrimination laws would not apply."
The suit asks the court to find that Strubin "committed the act of battery when he sexually assaulted Ludwig on April 29, 2019," and that he falsely imprisoned her and inflicted emotional distress. Ludwig is seeking compensatory and punitive damages.
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