Archive for Thursday, July 10, 2008

Judge seeks more time to respond to allegations

July 10, 2008

The attorney for a Leavenworth County District Court judge facing an official inquiry into allegations of sexual misconduct against a former staff member is requesting a 30-day extension to respond to the claims.

The Kansas Commission on Judicial Qualifications on June 30 issued a notice of formal proceedings against District Court Judge Frederick N. Stewart. The document outlined the allegations. It also gave Stewart 20 days to respond.

Stewart's lawyer, Michael Gibbens, who has a law office in Basehor, said last week that he requested the extension. Gibbens said it was a common practice for most civil litigations.

"We requested a 30-day extension, but they can give us whatever they want," Gibbens said. "Who knows what they will give us."

Asked about Stewart's reaction to the filing, Gibbens declined comment, but did say, "I can tell you that he denies the charges. We intend to have a full hearing on the issues and for him to be vindicated."

The allegations surround a former administrative assistant.

The complaint alleges that, beginning in approximately 1999, Stewart "engaged in inappropriate conduct" toward the aide, "consisting primarily of harassing conduct, which included inappropriate touching, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature."

From 1999 through 2007, the complaint alleges, "the inappropriate conduct proceeded from the stage of being principally verbal or non-physical to being physical, including in the later years physical touching of a sexual nature or sexual physical acts such as attempted kissing and gradually increasing to more serious sexual contact in later years, particularly in 2007."

Stewart also is accused of shirking his oversight duties related to administrative treatment of the aide.

The administrative assistant was fired in December after being employed for more than 12 years with the court.

Stewart has been on the bench since 1977.

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