Franklin County judge accused of sexual harassment testifies in fight to save job


A Franklin County Judge accused of sexual harassment testified Friday in his own defense.

Appeals Court Judge Timothy Horton has been dogged by scandal for four years, including sexual harassment allegations and campaign finance violations.

He even served jail time. Now he's fighting to save his legal career.

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"Did you ever sexually harass Ms. Wyant while she was employed as a legal secretary in your office?" asked Disciplinary Counsel Scott Drexel.
"No," Horton answered.
"Did you ever tell her she looked sexy?"
"In a text I did," admitted Horton.

The Supreme Court's Disciplinary Counsel accuses Horton of three counts of misconduct, that could cost him his job:
Count 1 - his criminal conviction last year for failure to file accurate statements in his campaign finance reports. For that, he spent 10 days in jail.
Count 2 - Misuse of County Resources and Staff alleges that he had his court staff do campaign work for him on county time, which Horton denies.
Count 3 - Inappropriate Sexual Conduct related to complaints to his former secretary and a former intern.

"You will hear testimony that they were objectified and subjected to repeated sexual harassment by (Horton)," said Casey Russo with the Office of Disciplinary Counsel. "You will also hear them testify about how they believed the respondent had the power to advance or halt their career given his stature as a judge and his position of authority."

Elise Wyant, Horton's one-time secretary, shared her story with 10tv in 2014.

The former intern is only identified as "MB."

Horton admits to a sexual relationship with her nine months after her internship.

"My client violated his marriage vows. That's really clear," said Horton's attorney Rick Brunner. "But what we've never seen before, what we don't have any precedent for, and what Ms. Russo cannot cite any precedent for, is going after someone for things that took place outside of work between consenting adults."

But the disciplinary counsel says harassment happened on the job, including Horton telling "MB" he'd called her into a meeting because he "just wanted something pretty to look at" and "repeatedly commenting on her appearance" and body.

Wyant accuses him of unwanted physical contact and graphic statements about wanting to have sex with her.

All of which, Horton denies.

Testimony picks back up next Thursday and Friday when both Wyant and "MB" are set to take the stand.

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