Federal Judge-Impeachment

WASHINGTON (AP) - The House on Friday impeached a federal judge
imprisoned for lying about sexual assaults of two women in the
first such vote since impeaching former President Bill Clinton a
decade ago.

The impeachment of U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Texas sets
up a trial in the Senate. Kent is the first federal judge impeached
in 20 years.

The House approved four articles of impeachment against Kent
accusing him of sexually assaulting two female employees and lying
to judicial investigators and Justice Department officials. All
four articles passed unanimously.

"The conduct at issue here is both shocking and shameful,"
Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers, chairman of the House
Judiciary Committee, said at the start of the debate.

Kent, 59, entered a federal prison in Massachusetts on Monday to
serve a 33-month sentence. He pleaded guilty last month to lying to
judicial investigators about sexual assaults of two female
employees.

Kent is refusing to resign until next year so he can continue to
draw his $174,000 a year salary. If he is convicted of the
impeachment charges in the Senate, he will be forced off the bench.

When contacted for comment, Kent's lawyer, Dick DeGuerin, cited
an earlier statement in which he said Kent's troubles might be
enough for impeachment in the House but would not have produced a
conviction in the Senate.

Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, the top Republican on the House
Judiciary Committee, said he was not unsympathetic to Kent, who has
said he has suffered depression since his first wife's death and
had problems with alcohol abuse. But Smith said Kent does not have
the right to continue as a federal judge and collect his salary.

"It is now time for justice: justice for the American people
who have been exploited by a judge who violated his oath of
office," Smith said.

Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Florida, sat in the chamber early in the
debate. Hastings was acquitted of bribery charges as a federal
judge, but later impeached by the House in 1988. The Senate
convicted him on similar impeachment charges.

The House voted in 1998 to impeach Clinton for obstructing
justice and lying under oath about his sexual affair with Monica
Lewinsky, but the Senate early the following year found him not
guilty on his impeachment charges.

The next step is for the Senate to appoint a special trial
committee. After doing pretrial work it will submit a full report
to the Senate. Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader
Harry Reid, D-Calif., said the pretrial work can last weeks or
months. But a trial can be swift.

The full Senate acts as jury and a two-thirds majority is
required to convict on the impeachment articles.

As part of his plea bargain, Kent admitted that he tried to
force Cathy McBroom, his former case manager, into unwanted sex
acts in 2003 and 2007, and did the same with Donna Wilkerson, his
secretary, from 2004 through at least 2005.

The Associated Press does not normally name alleged victims of
sexual abuse. But McBroom's lawyer and her family have used her
name publicly in discussing the case. Wilkerson knew her lawyer
gave her name to reporters during Kent's trial. Both women also
testified before the House committee.

He must participate in an alcohol-abuse program while in prison.
He also was fined $1,000 and ordered to pay $6,550 in restitution
to the secretary and case manager whose complaints resulted in the
first sex abuse case ever against a sitting federal judge.

Kent was nominated to the bench by President George H.W. Bush
and has served since 1990.
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