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Family Court Judge Suspended Over Sex And Misconduct Accusations In Kentucky

Kentucky state authorities say Kenton County Judge Dawn Gentry coerced colleagues to support her election campaign, made inappropriate advances toward an attorney and had sex in a courthouse office.

Kentucky's Judicial Conduct Commission has suspended Kenton County Judge Dawn Gentry from her official duties as it investigates numerous accusations of professional and sexual misconduct. Among other things, Gentry is alleged to have had sex with her lover and another woman while at work.

Gentry appeared before the judicial commission last Friday for a hearing to determine whether she should continue to serve on the bench while her case is working through the panel's review process. Issuing their decision this week, the commission's judges said that "in the best interest of justice," Gentry is now "suspended temporarily from acting in her official capacity as a judge."

While details that Gentry allegedly allowed sex, alcohol and loud music in courthouse offices have drawn national headlines, the judge also faces other serious charges of professional misconduct, from the way in which she handled cases to allegations that she coerced colleagues to support her election campaign.

Gentry was also accused of making inappropriate advances toward an attorney who worked as an advocate for children in her court. Three of the counts against Gentry accuse her of retaliating against that attorney and others who displeased her.

The state commission says Gentry will be suspended with pay "until final adjudication of the pending formal proceedings."

As part of her suspension, Gentry is barred from the Kenton County Courthouse — where she is alleged to have hired her lover, a former pastor named Stephen Penrose, with whom she allegedly had sex along with her secretary while the three were at work. The Kentucky panel also says the trio left the courthouse together "on numerous occasions," leaving her family court office unstaffed.

Gentry, a Republican who recently concluded a divorce, won election to the family court bench in 2018. In doing so, she retained the seat to which she'd been appointed by then-Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin in 2016, when the spot was vacant.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.


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