Judge could be impeached for inappropriate behavior.
A complaint against Kentucky judge, Dawn Gentry of Kenton County, alleges she forced another employee to resign to in order to create a job opening as a case specialist for her former pastor, Stephen Penrose, who played guitar in a band with Gentry called South of Cincy, and with whom she is accused of having a sexual relationship. She is also accused of engaging in sexual relations with the new employee and her secretary in a courthouse office during working hours.
The complaint alleges Gentry had sex with the ex-pastor and secretary in a courthouse office as well as left with them during regular court hours. Gentry also “improperly delegated judicial functions to the former pastor,” according to the complaint, and allowed him to play his guitar at the courthouse.
The complaint also alleges Gentry “made inappropriate and unwelcome sexual advances toward an attorney on a guardian ad litem panel.” An affidavit by the lawyer said Gentry “pressured her to seduce Gentry’s husband and asked her to join in a threesome with the former church pastor.” Gentry then refused to recuse herself in the attorney’s cases. The attorney believed Gentry wanted her to seduce her husband so she could blame him for a divorce.
Gentry is also accused of “pressuring members of the guardian ad litem panel to donate the maximum amount to the campaign; removing a lawyer from the panel for failing to donate the maximum; using court staff to work on her campaign during work hours and retaliating against lawyers who didn’t support her campaign by delaying hearing dates for their cases.” Gentry reportedly “consumed alcohol at the courthouse and allowed her staff to do the same.”
The judge has denied the allegations against her. Her answer to the complaint states she “never asked anyone for campaign money, though she did ask members of the GAL panel for help. Nor did she intentionally use staff for campaign work during work hours.” She says she “didn’t retaliate against the GAL lawyer over campaign donations; instead his performance had been subpar. And she didn’t delay hearing dates, which are set by her secretary.”
The judge added she “relied on her staff to keep accurate time sheets and she allowed flexible work hours…Though she did sometimes go out to lunch with the secretary, her case specialist and a staff attorney, she has changed the procedure so the office is always staffed.”
She “didn’t realize the pastor’s guitar was distracting other employees and keeping them from performing their daily duties.” And, she had “no idea” employees were consuming alcohol during business hours.
State Representative Adam Koenig, said, “This needs to be taken very seriously,” calling the allegations against Gentry “extremely troubling” and those that “reflect an abuse of power, among other issues.”
Kentucky’s Judicial Conduct Commission is preparing to hold a disciplinary hearing about the formal charges against Gentry. While there are no immediate plans for impeachment, Koenig said, “It is an option that we need consider, in my view.” Gentry currently makes $136,000 a year on the bench.