Federal judge sentenced to 33 months in prison for obstructing justice

By Calvin Palmer

A federal judge who became embroiled in allegations of sexual harassment was today sentenced to 33 months in prison for obstructing justice.

Samuel Kent, pleaded guilty in February to lying to a judicial committee investigating an allegation he sexually harassed an employee.

The Galveston judge also acknowledged non-consensual sexual contact with two female employees between 2003 and 2007.

The sentence was passed by Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson of Pensacola, Florida., sitting at the Houston courthouse.

Two of Kent’s victims read statements in court.

Secreatry Donna Wilkerson said: “He always said he hated bullies. How sad that he is the biggest bully of them all.”

Former case manager Cathy McBroom was angered by Kent’s initial explanations that their relationship was a love affair that went awry.

“Being molested and groped by a drunken giant is not my idea of an affair,” she said.

Vinson said in court other women besides Wilkerson and McBroom sent him letters complaining of misconduct on Kent’s part.

Five criminal charges against Kent related to the sexual contact were dropped. But all of Kent’s actions were to be considered by Vinson in determining his sentence.

The obstruction charge carries a maximum punishment of 20 years in prison. And prosecutors requested Kent be sentenced to three years in prison. Vinson came close to that length of time.

Kent was appointed to the bench by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. Like all other federal judges he was appointed for life and is still drawing his salary from the government, though he is no longer hearing cases.

His salary is $174,000 a year. In the eleven weeks since he pleaded guilty to obstructing justice, Kent has been paid about $36,000. He will keep being paid unless he resigns or is impeached.

Members of Congress, among them Rep. John Sensenbrenner, R-Wisconsin., Rep. Lamar Smith, R-San Antonio, and Rep. John Conyers, D-Michigan, are poised to seek Kent’s impeachment.

[Based on a report by the Houston Chronicle.]

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