Friday, August 29, 2008

Federal judge indicted for sexual assault

Federal district judge Samuel Kent of Texas was indicted on two counts of abusive sexual conduct (that's sexual contact without permission) and one count of aggravated sexual abuse (that's sexual contact by force). He is charged with federal crimes because they were allegedly committed at a federal courthouse against an employee. The indictment is here.

Sexual assault is so often hidden and diminished, especially when committed by men in positions of power, that it's refreshing to see a federal judge -- someone appointed by the President to a lifetime position -- called to account.

On a quite different note, there is what I assume to be very inartful drafting in the indictment. Federal law defines a sexual act as one committed "with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade, or arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person." But the indictment states that Kent engaged in unwanted sexual acts against the employee (called Person A) "with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade and arouse and gratify the sexual desire of Person A." I rather doubt the Kent's intent was to arouse and gratify the alleged victim, or that the government meant to alleged that. It's of no legal moment, but it strikes me a fairly perverse error.

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