California

Appeals Court Justice in LA Accused of Repeated Sexual Misconduct

An attorney for Johnson said he denies the allegations, passed a lie detector test about the most serious accusations and plans to present evidence from other colleagues and court employees in his defense.

A California state appeals court justice was accused Monday of repeatedly groping a colleague's breasts, suggesting they have an affair and telling a police officer who served as his driver that he wanted to have sex with her in his chambers.

The Commission on Judicial Performance charged Justice Jeffrey W. Johnson of the 2nd District Court of Appeal in Los Angeles with nine counts of misconduct for allegations that date back 15 years to his time as a federal magistrate judge, when he allegedly asked a court clerk if she had a breast enlargement and whether he could touch them.

An attorney for Johnson said he denies the allegations, passed a lie detector test about the most serious accusations and plans to present evidence from other colleagues and court employees in his defense.

"Justice Johnson remains committed to the process even in the face of irresponsible and unsubstantiated emails sent by a judicial officer to thousands of court personnel containing erroneous information," attorney Paul Meyer said in a statement. He didn't elaborate about the emails.

The charges named 16 women who reported inappropriate comments or behavior by Johnson. Some of the women were lawyers who worked for the court, one was a county prosecutor and three were fellow appellate justices.

The complaint details behavior that escalated after a female justice phoned to congratulate him on his appointment after they were both nominated to the bench by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. He responded by telling her he didn't realize she was so beautiful, according to the complaint.

In 2010, while discussing a case in chambers, Johnson allegedly told the female justice that he wanted to have an affair with her and that they were "perfect together."

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After the female justice said she had been at a difficult hearing, Johnson said he should kiss her and squeeze her breasts to make her feel better, according the complaint. He then squeezed one of her breasts.

At a court holiday party he pressed against her and said: "It can't be sexual harassment because we're both on the same level," according to the complaint.

The complaint said Johnson proposed sex three times to a California Highway Patrol officer who served as his driver for work functions.

He allegedly told the officer he wanted her to pull over so they could have sex in the vehicle and then said he wanted to get drinks and then have sex in his chambers. On one instance, he told her he wanted to see her out of uniform and graphically described what he wanted to do with her.

The allegations could result in Johnson's removal from the court or public censure.

Johnson is a former federal prosecutor.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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