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Judge Dawn Gentry's alleged sex and drinking partner hasn't testified in her misconduct hearing

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Posted at 7:05 PM, Aug 13, 2020

The misconduct hearing of a Kenton County judge accused of having sex and drinking alcohol in her courthouse offices appears ready to end without testimony - salacious or otherwise - from its most anticipated witness.

Stephen Penrose has been noticeably absent from the courthouse during the first four days of Judge Dawn Gentry’s hearing before the Judicial Conduct Commission - except in name.

According to allegations, Penrose was Gentry’s office sex and drinking partner and Gentry hired Penrose as her case specialist because of her sexual relationship with him, not because of his job qualifications.

A commission judge questioning a witness, attorney Debbie Pleatman, got right to the point.

Commission judge: “Would it surprise you to know he sent pictures of his genitalia to her?”

Pleatman: “I like Steve overall, but he’s very, very confident in his … everything.”

Now Penrose is not expected to testify at all.

“He was served, and we made further attempts,” said commission attorney Bryan Beauman.

Beauman said he didn’t hear back from Penrose until a call came from his attorney Wednesday evening. Penrose’s attorney says there was a "miscommunication."

“Well, I have rested my case, so that doesn’t really help me much,” Beauman said.

Witnesses testified that they heard ”heavy breathing” and “moaning” from Gentry’s office. But another witness disputed that, claiming the noises were part of a “prank.”

Several defense witnesses testified Thursday to Gentry's credibility as a family court judge.

“She appeared to know the law,” said attorney Rick Scott, a member of the guardian ad litem panel that the state pays to give legal help to Kenton County children facing abuse.

“You have to have a certain demeanor and she had that,” Scott said.

Scott also testified against the charge that Gentry coerced members of her staff to donate to her campaign.

Scott said he was the one who “hounded” people to donate and denied that Gentry ever told him to put pressure on the GAL panel to donate.

Pleatman defended Gentry against accusations about her character.

Commission judge: “Do you understand that the judicial conduct oath that judges take is they’re a judge 24 hours a day?”

Pleatman: “I understand they’re human.”

The hearing will continue Friday morning, when the defense could wrap up its case. Once that happens, the Judicial Conduct Commission will decide Gentry’s fate as a judge.