Northeast Tarrant

Judge in Tarrant County reprimanded for sexual conduct with clerk

Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Russell Casey was sanctioned last week by a special court of review for his sexual conduct with his chief clerk and court manager from 2009 to 2014, according to the court’s written opinion.
Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Russell Casey was sanctioned last week by a special court of review for his sexual conduct with his chief clerk and court manager from 2009 to 2014, according to the court’s written opinion. McClatchy

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A state court has publicly reprimanded a Tarrant County judge for engaging in sexual conduct with his chief clerk, according to court documents.

Precinct 3 Justice of the Peace Russell Casey was sanctioned last week by a special court of review for his sexual conduct with his chief clerk and court manager from 2009 to 2014, according to the court’s written opinion.

Casey called the court’s decision “balderdash” Monday in a phone interview.

The woman had worked for the previous justice of the peace and continued working for Casey when he was elected in 2007. In August 2014, Casey began the termination process against the woman, and then she reported him to human resources, filed a federal lawsuit against him alleging sexual harassment and reported to the district attorney’s office that Casey had sexually assaulted her.

The Star-Telegram is not identifying her because of the nature of the case.

A Tarrant County grand jury later declined to indict Casey. He and the woman settled the federal lawsuit late last year, according to court records.

Casey and the woman both testified through depositions as part of the federal lawsuit, in which Casey said he and the woman had a consensual relationship and had sex twice and oral sex about 10 times, according to the court document. Each encounter was either at the courthouse or at a conference related to court business.

The woman’s testimony for the federal lawsuit told a different story — that the sex was less consensual than Casey claimed and that he tried to fire her days after she said “no more” to his sexual advances.

The woman testified that in the first incident in 2009, Casey came into her office, locked the door and exposed himself to her, according to the document. The woman, in shock, unlocked the door and started to open it, but he closed and locked it again. He then told her that people in the office disliked her and wanted her fired, and that he was the only reason she still had her job, according to her testimony.

Casey urged the woman to perform oral sex on him, promising to never bother her again, according to the woman’s testimony. She complied, and said she started crying. Casey told her to compose herself. She then went to the restroom and vomited, according to her testimony.

The woman said that from December 2009 or 2010 until August 2014, Casey regularly exposed himself to her at the office, made similar statements about her being able to keep her job if she did what he asked, and asked her to perform oral sex on him, including one time while he wore his judge’s robe, the document said.

The woman said that if she refused his requests, Casey would yell at her at work, call her a “horrible court manager” and tell her she “didn’t do anything right.”

Casey also began asking her for sexual intercourse, and they had sex twice, according to her testimony. She said there were 18 other sexual interactions.

‘No more’

Both Casey and the woman said many of the sexual interactions occurred at the courthouse, and many of those were during court hours while employees were in the adjacent office, according to the court document. Casey agreed the conduct was “particularly inappropriate,” the document said.

In August 2014, Casey made another sexual advance, the woman testified, and she refused, said “no more,” and ran out of the office. Casey tried to fire her a few days later, according to the woman’s testimony.

Casey’s testimony told a different story of a consensual, though admittedly inappropriate relationship that ended before he found cause to fire the woman.

Casey said in the federal lawsuit deposition, according to the document, that their relationship possibly began as early as 2008, when he and the woman were working late and they began discussing how long it had been since either of them had had sex. He said the woman then offered to and did perform oral sex on him in her office at the courthouse.

Their relationship continued until June 2014, Casey said during the deposition in the federal lawsuit.

Casey said in the deposition that he tried to fire the woman in August 2014 because she was claiming mileage to which she wasn’t entitled and was using court deposits for personal use, according to the document. Casey said he initially denied the relationship when asked by human resources because he was embarrassed.

In the hearing, he said a court audit revealed 81 deposits had been mishandled, that the woman was in charge of the deposits and that she made the sexual assault claim after learning the results of the audit.

In the hearing with the state commission, Casey admitted that a relationship with court staff is inappropriate, particularly sexual conduct in the courthouse during court hours. He said he regretted getting involved with a co-worker and said it wouldn’t happen again.

After the woman filed her lawsuit, local news outlets reported it, and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct began investigating Casey, according to the opinion. The commission determined that Casey should be publicly reprimanded, but Casey requested a review of the decision, seeking a private reprimand instead.

The Texas Supreme Court selected a court of review, which affirmed the commission’s decision that Casey violated Texas Code of Judicial Conduct Canon 3B(4) and failed to treat the woman “in a courteous and dignified manner.” The court sanctioned Casey with a public reprimand.

The woman’s attorney, Andrea Loveless, said they “are happy with the court’s decision,” and the woman “feels justice has been served.”

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Casey said Monday that the woman has been on paid administrative leave for two-and-a-half years, but Tarrant County spokesman Marc Flake said that after she made the accusations, the woman was moved to a different building and has been doing administrative work.

Precinct 3 includes much of Northeast Tarrant County. Casey’s term expires in January 2019.

This story contains material from Star-Telegram archives.

Mark David Smith: 817-390-7808, @MarkSmith_FWST