Federal judge accused of showing staffers porn at work

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Six women have come forward to accuse a federal appeals court judge of sexual misconduct, according to The Washington PostAlex Kozinski serves on the Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and was formerly that court’s chief judge.

According to Heidi Bond, who clerked for Kozinski in 2006 and 2007, the judge called her into his office and showed her pornography on his computer several times. He asked her if she thought the images were “photoshopped” and wanted to know if they turned her on, she recalled.

Bond, now a romance novelist who writes under the name of Courtney Milan, wrote on her website that he also showed her a chart he made in college showing all the women he had had sex with and telling her not to tell any of the other clerks about it. She wrote, “When this happened, I felt like a prey animal—as if I had to make myself small. If I did, if I never admitted to having any emotions at all, I would get through it.”

A woman named Emily Murphy, who clerked for a different judge on the 9th circuit, told The Washington Post how Kozinski once told her that she should work out naked in front of other staffers.

Murphy told the Post, “It wasn’t just clear that he was imagining me naked, he was trying to invite other people — my professional colleagues — to do so as well.”

Kozinski, 67,  responded to the allegations in a statement, saying, “I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers. I treat all of my employees as family and workvery closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”

In 2008, a Los Angeles Times report revealed that Kozinski had an email list that he used to distribute rude jokes, some of which were sexually explicit. The paper also reported that he had a publicly accessible website that contained pornography.

A judicial investigation was launched as a result, but it came to the conclusion that he had not intended for the public to be able to access that website and that the man’s “conduct exhibiting poor judgement with respect to this material created a public controversy that can reasonably be seen as having resulted in embarrassment to the federal judiciary.”

In 1991, Kozinski ruled on a sexual harassment case which decided that the point of view of the victim, using the “reasonable woman” standard, should be used in such cases.

The Post quotes Kozinski’s writings about sexual harassment in 1992 in which he said that men “must be aware of the boundaries of propriety and learn to stay well within them.” Women, he wrote, “must be vigilant of their rights, but must also have some forgiveness for human foibles: misplaced humor, misunderstanding or just plain stupidity.”

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