Federal judge from KCK resigns after sexual misconduct allegations

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Picture of Judge Carlos Murguia

Wyandotte County (Kan.) District Court Judge Carlos Murguia, is seen in an undated black and white photo. Murguia, who was publicly reprimanded last fall after acknowledging that he sexually harassed female employees and had an extramarital affair with an offender, resigned on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020. Murguia’s resignation is effective April 1, 2020. (AP Photo/The Kansas City Star via AP)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A federal district court judge in Kansas who was publicly admonished last fall for sexual misconduct and having an extramarital affair resigned on Tuesday.

In a letter to President Donald Trump, US District Judge Carlos Murguia of the District of Kansas offered his resignation and expressed “profound apologies.”

“In recent months, it has become clear that I can no longer effectively serve the Court in this capacity,” he said.

Murguia’s resignation comes following congressional committee hearings last week on efforts by the judiciary to protect judicial employees from sexual harassment, and after a panel of judges in September publicly admonished him for behavior they said could have put him at risk of “extortion.”

Murguia, who had served as a district judge since 1999, stepped down with “a heavy heart and profound apologies, out of respect for the federal judiciary, my colleagues, my community and — most importantly — my family,” he said in the letter.

A special committee that investigated allegations against Murguia found that he had sexually harassed female employees, made “sexually suggestive” comments and sent “inappropriate texts” often late into the night, according to an order released by the court in September.

The order also said all of the harassed employees said they had been reluctant to tell Murguia to stop his behavior “because of the power he held as a federal judge.” One employee told him to stop his behavior, but he continued, the order says.

In a significant note, the judicial council thought Murguia’s actions were “too serious and the importance of maintaining the integrity of the Judiciary in the mind of the public too important for a private reprimand.” Sexual misconduct allegations against federal judges rarely become public, even belatedly, and rarely are judges who misbehave subject to any sanction, a 2018 CNN study found.

The issue received renewed visibility when a woman who served as a law clerk to a federal appeals court judge who died in 2018 told Congress on Thursday that she was sexually harassed by her former boss and that systems set up by the judiciary to report instances of sexual allegations are inadequate.

The new allegations from Olivia Warren, a lawyer who clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt in 2017 and 2018 and now works on death penalty litigation, came during a House subcommittee hearing focused on protecting federal judicial employees from sexual harassment.

She described Reinhardt as someone who “demeaned his employees, a man who demeaned women and a man who sexually harassed me.” She recounted a series of inappropriate comments as well as a crude drawing displayed in chambers.

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