Monday, November 12, 2007

Your honors, it is called sexual assault

Memo to federal judges: I esteem the fact that you folks cognize the law. What isn't clear is whether you cognize the English language.

When a cat inquires for a clinch from a woman, then against her volition sets his manus up under her blouse, military units her brassiere up and sets his oral cavity on her breast, then forces her head down to his crotch, that is not harassment.

It's assault.

Yes, even if the cat is a federal judge.

Because of newsman Lise Olsen's bulldog shoe-leather coverage (see today's presence page), we now cognize that this is the manner Cathy McBroom, lawsuit director for U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Galveston, described what the justice did to her last March.

That's what she told one of her best friends, Charlene William Clark of San Antonio, the same day. That's what she told her mother, Virgin Mary Ann Schopp.

As specific as it gotAnd that's what she told Genus Felicia Williams, another friend who had previously worked as Kent's lawsuit manager. Presumably, that's what she also told research workers for the 19 Judges who sit down on the judicial council of the 5th U.S. Circuit, the New Orleans-based district that includes Texas.

Yet in a public order reprimanding and suspending the justice for four months, the lone reference to Kent's onslaught on McBroom was of a ailment "alleging sexual torment toward an employee of the federal judicial system."

The order, approved by a bulk ballot (and I inquire what linguistic communication the minority wanted), also made mention of "alleged inappropriate behaviour toward other employees." That's as specific as it got.

More than stupid remarksThe council, which includes four women and is headed by 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Head Judge Edith Jones, took actions that are serious in their ain culture. Judges don't publicly reprimand and suspend other Judges unless they believe the accuser.

But much of the public could presume that Kent had repeatedly made some stupid sexual comments and possibly patted McBroom on the backside. And maybe he did the same to other female workers.

If McBroom is telling the truth, for the Judges to publish a statement only referring to "sexual harassment" is a great ill service not only to her, but to the public as well.

It do the difference between whether we desire Kent off the bench or not. And, if what McBroom states is true, I can't conceive of that the public volition not desire him impeached.

I can't believe of a private-sector executive who would last in his occupation if he did what McBroom states Kent did. With the possible exclusion of an NBA full general manager, and then only in New York.

Yet this adult male will go back to the bench and not only oversee female employees, but he will be tasked with presiding over trials involving complaints of sexual torment and discrimination.

Kent, who declined to be interviewed by the Chronicle, should not just be distressing about keeping his job, even though it would take a rare impeachment by the House of Representatives and strong belief by the Senate to take him.

He should be concerned about making his lawsuit to a criminal jury.

Rusty Hardin, a former public prosecutor who stands for McBroom, states she will press felony charges. He did not lucubrate to Olsen, but I consulted with other lawyers and law professors.

Under state law, it is a second-degree felony for a individual to forcibly convey into contact with his sexual organ the oral cavity of an unwilling person. To try a law-breaking is one degree less.

According to Sarah Buel, a University of Lone-Star State law professor and co-founder of the Greenwich Mean Time Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, a individual who did what McBroom described could be charged with the third-degree felony of attempted sexual assault.

The punishment scope includes a mulct and 2-10 old age in prison.

Because the alleged incident took topographic point in the federal courthouse in Galveston, it could be prosecuted as a federal felony called "abusive sexual contact." The penalty isn't as severe, but purpose demand not be proved.

The United States Code gives a definition of "sexual contact" which includes touching the breast, and states a individual who "knowingly prosecutes in sexual contact with another individual without that other person's permission shall be fined under this statute title and imprisoned not more than than two years, or both."

So, OK, esteemed members of the 5th Circuit judicial council, maybe in your human race what McBroom described wouldn't be sexual assault. It would be "abusive sexual contact." That still communicates considerably more than than "sexual harassment."

You can compose to Crick Casey at P.O. Box 4260, Houston, Texas 77210, or e-mail him at .

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