A powerful and prominent appeals court judge is being accused of sexual misconduct by six clerks or more junior staffers who worked with him, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Judge Alex Kozinski, who for many years served as chief judge on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals, is being accused of having subjected a number of the court’s female staffers to a range of inappropriate sexual actions, including as recently as 2012, the Post reports.
Heidi Bond, one of the women accusing Kozinski, told the Post that in 2006 and 2007, he made her look at porn on several occasions, asking for her opinions about what she saw and if it sexually aroused her. According to Bond, the porn was not part of any court cases.
Bond told the Post that one set of images showed college-age students at a party where “some people were inexplicably naked while everyone else was clothed.” Another allowed viewers to mix and match heads, torsos and legs to make an image of a nude woman.
At the time, Bond was in her early 30s.
Another accuser named by the Post, Emily Murphy, who clerked for a different judge at the court, told the Post that while she was with a group of other clerks at a hotel in San Francisco in 2012, Kozinkski told her that, due to the emptiness of the hotel gym, she should work out naked.
“It wasn’t just clear that he was imagining me naked, he was trying to invite other people — my professional colleagues — to do so as well,” Murphy told the Post. “That was what was humiliating about it.”
Murphy was 30 at the time of the incident. The other four women spoke on condition of anonymity out of fear they might face retaliation from Kozinski or others, the Post reported.
Kozinski is now 67 and continues to serve as a judge on the federal appeals court, which is the largest in the country, after having completed his term as chief judge. He was dismissive of the allegations against him.
“I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers,” Kozinski said in a statement to CNN, which he also gave to the Post. “I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”
After the Post’s story posted, he also told the Los Angeles Times: “I don’t remember ever showing pornographic material to my clerks”
This is not the first time Kozinski has been in hot water for lewd or inappropriate actions. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2008 that the judge distributed crude jokes, sometimes with sexual themes, over an email listserve named the “Easy Rider Gag List.”
Another report said that he maintained a server containing sexually explicit material. At the time of the reporting, Kozinski recused himself from presiding over a high-profile obscenity case in Los Angeles. Kozinski maintained that he thought the server was private and a judicial investigation ultimately cleared him.