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Judge engulfed in sex scandal demands NYAG defense

With nary a mention of the rape and forced oral sex claims that drove his resignation, a former New York judge focused obliquely on pet nicknames and alleged touching in his suit against the state Thursday.

ALBANY (CN) — A former Rochester Supreme Court judge who resigned last year is suing New York Attorney General Letitia James for not defending him against a former secretary who says the judge raped her and made her fellate him in chambers on a monthly basis.

The petition from Matthew Rosenbaum, a former justice of the New York Supreme Court in Monroe County, comes two years after he retired from the bench amid a shadowy misconduct probe and six months after a federal complaint against him in the Western District of New York laid those allegations bare.

Rebecca Klymn accuses Rosenbaum of forcing her to perform oral sex him on a monthly basis during his 15-year career on the bench, telling her that “performing fellatio upon him was part of her job … to assist him in relieving his stress.”

“Rosenbaum also threatened Plaintiff that if she wanted to keep her job she would comply with his demands for oral sex,” says Klyman, who is represented by two women attorneys in Buffalo, Anna Marie Richmond and Lindy Korn. Klyman additionally alleges that she had had been on the job one year and trying to keep custody of her son during a divorce when Rosenbaum raped her in her home in 2006.

Eleven days after the suit was filed, Rosenbaum asked the state to undertake his defense. It shot him down on Oct. 8 — a move that his petition Thursday frames as arbitrary and capricious.

Because the allegations against him occurred “within the scope of his employment as a Justice of Supreme Court,” Rosenbaum says the state's refusal to defend him violates Section 17 of the Public Officers Law.

No representative for Attorney General James responded to a request for comment Thursday afternoon.

Rosenbaum’s petition in Albany County opts to highlight some of the more benign allegations from Klyman's federal complaint, such as calling the secretary “honey” and “sweetie” and touching her “on a daily basis” from 2009 to 2017. There is no mention in 5-page filing signed by Rochester-based attorney David Rothenberg that the former judge is accused of forcing his secretary into oral and penetrative sex.

Arguments in Rosenbaum's federal case with Klyman are scheduled for February. 

The former judge says he was appointed to the bench by Governor Pataki on or about March 22, 2005, and elected to serve a 14-year term the following November.

It was after Rosenbaum was reelected in November 2019 that New York’s Office of Court Administration began investigating him. Rosenbaum was later relieved from hearing any cases, and he voluntarily retired from office on New Year's Eve.

When the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct allowed him to bypass an investigation by leaving office, Rosenbaum agreed to never again seek or accept a judicial position in the state’s judiciary.

The 2-page stipulation from January 2020 noted only that Rosenbaum “made improper and at times abusive personal demands of court staff, directly or indirectly conveying that continued employment required submitting to such demands, and creating a hostile workplace environment.”

That stipulation followed a unanimous vote from the 11-member Commission on Judicial Conduct.

One of the commissioners, a town justice from Monroe County named John Falk, recused himself. It is not clear whether he did so because he knew Rosenbaum personally.

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