Board recommends Franklin County judge be suspended indefinitely

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The Board of Professional Conduct has found a Franklin County Appeals Court judge guilty of misconduct, including sexual harassment and abuse of power.

The recommendation from the board for Judge Timothy Horton is to be suspended indefinitely from practicing law, following days of sexually graphic, emotional testimony against Horton this summer.

"I was getting up to go to the bathroom, Judge Horton looked at me and said, 'Walk away slowly,'" said a former intern. "And so I went to the restroom, and when I came back, that's when Judge Horton looked at me, and he said, 'I want to (expletive) you in the (expletive)."

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Horton admitted to a sexual relationship with a former intern after she left his office. A former secretary who later served as a bailiff in his court also gave testimony.

"He started pulling at my waist and my hip," the former secretary said. "He kept saying over and over, 'I want to (expletive) you, I want to (expletive) you.' And he was being so loud. I kept saying, 'Stop, stop.'"

Horton denied sexually harassing both women, saying all sexual acts and conversations were consensual. He blamed his poor judgment on alcoholism for which he has since sought treatment.

"I've made a lot of mistakes. I'm not asking you -- I want you to know that I recognize that," Horton said.

In a strongly-worded ruling, the Board of Professional Conduct finds Horton repeatedly violated the Codes of Professional and Judicial Conduct, including violating campaign finance laws and misusing county employees to work on his campaign. The board also found he "abused his position of authority" and "engaged in sexual harassment."

"His conduct was predatory when he engaged in inappropriate sexual discussions with his employees and former employees of the court," the panel wrote. "The crucial factor was the control and power that (he) possessed over his employees, whether or not he was in the workplace."

The Ohio Supreme Court will have the final word on the case some time next year.

To read the board's full report, click here.

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