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Hearings begin for judge accused of sex, alcohol consumption and other misconduct

Gentry faces 9 counts of misconduct
Posted at 5:53 PM, Aug 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-10 19:57:29-04

An anonymous complaint filed in December against Dawn Gentry, a Kenton County family court judge, highlighted several complaints of misconduct and ethical violations and on Monday she faced a Judicial Conduct Commission for trial.

Complaints against her include having sex in the courthouse with two staff members, unwanted sexual advances against a lawyer whose cases she continued to preside over, campaign violations and more.

If found guilty of the ethics violations stacked against her, Gentry could lose her position as judge.

The Judicial Conduct Commission accuses her of:

  • 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 liason 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.

On Monday, she was called to answer specifically questions about inappropriate photos she received from an employee she is accused of hiring for the sole reason of having an affair with him.

"[He] ever sent you nude photographs?" said Brian Bowman, the attorney representing the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission.

"He has," said Gentry.

The sexual misconduct is just one of nine complaints leveled against her. She's also accused of unwanted sexual advances against a female attorney, from whose cases Gentry did not recuse herself after the incident.

"Would you agree with me that you shouldn't have remained hearing her cases after that incident occurred?" said Bowman.

"I agree," Gentry replied.

"And you admit that your failure to recuse on her cases has violated the code of judicial conduct?" said Bowman.

"I do," said Gentry.

Those admissions, along with the severity of some of the complaints, are why the Judicial Conduct Commission argues she should be disbarred. Her attorney argued that her ability to admit her mistakes, and her reputation as a fair judge, are why she should stay put.

"I think her acknowledgment and the testimony that you're going to hear is evidence that she has the ability to conduct herself as a judge," said Jeff Lawson, Gentry's attorney.

Gentry's trial, held in Campbell County, is expected to last through the week, with witness testimony continuing on Tuesday.