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Conduct trial of Kenton County judge continues into third day

Posted at 5:40 PM, Aug 12, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-12 23:28:32-04

Witness testimony continued into the third day of the conduct trial for Kenton County judge Dawn Gentry, who is accused of ethics violations and misconduct spanning from having sex with employees and drinking alcohol in the courthouse to coercing people to support her campaign financially.

During Tuesday's hearing, witnesses recounted a day in April where they said they could hear moaning and heavy breathing coming from an office. Witnesses said they believed the people making those noises were Gentry, her secretary and Gentry's case specialist, whom she is accused of hiring not based on merit, but so she could have an affair with him.

Gentry's attorney insisted the noises were likely a joke, played because Gentry and her staff did not get along with another judge's team, with whom they shared a floor.

On Wednesday, discussions and testimony of that same incident continued, as Gentry's secretary took the stand. She echoed Gentry's attorney and said the incident was a joke, because of rumors that the three were involved in a romance.

"When rumors got so ridiculous...yes we may have been laughing and kidding around and basically said 'they're going to talk, we're going to give them something to talk about,'" said Laura Aubrey, Gentry's secretary.

She said they may have been laughing, but that there was no moaning going on. She also said she does not believe Gentry was having an affair with her case specialist and would be surprised to hear that's true.

"The rumors just got was just laughable...we just make light of it," said Aubrey. "This is a work environment. This is a professional environment, this just didn't happen."

The allegations surrounding this specific incident have been a focus of the first three days of witness testimony, but Gentry faces other allegations:

  • Coercing people to contribute to her campaign
  • Falsifying time sheets
  • Having sex with two staff members in the courthouse during work hours
  • Permitting her staff to store and consume alcoholic beverages in court offices and at times consuming alcoholic beverages in the courthouse
  • Retaliating against a school liaison officer
  • Holding pretrial conferences in child-abuse cases without all attorneys present

The commission's initial report also said Gentry's child witnessed a confidential proceeding and that Gentry’s child "recognized the child involved in the proceeding," violating confidentiality.

Testimony is set to continue on Thursday.