FORT WORTH, Texas (CN) – A Texas judicial discipline agency announced Thursday the public reprimand of a Fort Worth-area judge for having sex with his former chief clerk at the courthouse.
Tarrant County Justice of the Peace Russell Casey violated the Texas Constitution and Texas Code of Judicial Conduct when he “engaged in an improper sexual relationship” with the female clerk, the State Commission on Judicial Conduct’s May 9 order states.
Courthouse News Service is not disclosing the clerk’s name due to her claims of sexual assault by Casey and the graphic details in the order.
Casey was first elected in 2007 to Precinct 3, which includes the affluent Fort Worth suburbs of North Richland Hills, Colleyville and Southlake in northeast Tarrant County. His current term expires in January 2019.
The clerk had worked for Casey’s predecessor and served as chief clerk and court manager under Casey. She complained to human resources after the judge initiated termination proceedings in 2014 and later filed a federal lawsuit claiming she was sexually harassed. She also filed a report with the district attorney claiming she was sexually assaulted.
The commission cites deposition testimony from the federal lawsuit in which Casey admits to having a sexual relationship with the clerk that started as early as 2008 when the two were working after hours.
“[T]he two of them began discussing how long it had been since either of them had had sex, that [the clerk] offered to and then performed oral sex on him, and that the incident occurred in [her] office at the courthouse,” the 15-page order states. “When describing other encounters, Judge Casey state that he asked [her] to perform oral sex on him ‘over the course of the years,’ estimated that she performed oral sex ‘less than 10’ times, related that [she] refused ‘four or five times,’ explained that he inserted his penis into [her] vagina on two occasions, and recalled that the last sexual encounter occurred in June 2014, and Judge Casey also explained that these encountered always occurred at the courthouse or at a conference related to court business and admitted that the courthouse was county property.”
Casey testified he tried to fire the clerk for “claiming money that did not belong to her” and said he believed she was using court deposits for her own personal use.
“Finally, Judge Casey admitted that he denied the relationship when he was first asked about it by human resources because he was embarrassed,” the order states.
The clerk painted a far different picture of the relationship, testifying that the first incident took place in 2009 with the judge closing the door behind her with other employees in a nearby office.
She said he “locked the door, told her how good he treated her, sat down, ‘took his penis out,’ pulled his pants down, asked her to ‘just do that,’ and stated that if she did, ‘he would never ask [her] again.”
The clerk testified she tried to leave, that Casey then told her people in the office disliked her and that he was the only reason she still had a job.
She testified that Casey “grabbed her hand, put her hand ‘on his penis,’ and ‘pushed [her] head down there,’ and [she] described performing oral sex on Judge Casey,” the order states. “When explaining what happened afterwards, [she] testified that she started crying, that Judge Casey told her ‘to compose [her]self before leaving,’ and that she went to the restroom and ‘threw up.’”
The clerk claimed that from 2009 to 2004, Casey would regularly expose himself to her at the office, made more statements about keeping her job if she complied and asked for oral sex, including one time while wearing his judge’s robe. She testified that when Casey said he was going to fire her, he never mentioned issues with improper mileage reimbursement claims.
The public sanction is the second harshest punishment the commission can levy. The harshest penalty – a suspension – can be given only when a judge is indicted for a felony or misdemeanor involving his official position, according to the commission’s web site.
Tarrant County officials declined to comment on the reprimand Thursday morning.
A message requesting comment from Judge Casey was left with his staff Thursday morning. Casey told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram the reprimand is “balderdash.”
Casey had asked the commission for a lesser punishment of a private reprimand, the order states. The commission disagreed, saying the factors weigh “at a minimum” in favor of a public reprimand.
“The stipulated facts and the testimony established that the misconduct was not an isolated incident but was instead a pattern of conduct occurring over many of the years in which he has served as a judge,” the order states. “Furthermore, [the clerk] testified that there were twenty sexual interactions, and Judge Casey stipulated that ‘he requested and received oral [sex] from her approximately ten times.’ Although misconduct did not occur in the actual courtroom, the misconduct did occur in the courthouse offices and often during work hours. Moreover, [she] testified that Judge Casey used his role as a judge and as her employer to receive sexual favors, and as set out above and as agreed to by Judge Casey, his actions undermined the respect that citizens have for the judiciary.”