Judge accused of sexual misconduct mounts defense in fight for job


A Franklin County Judge accused of sexual misconduct is fighting to save his career.

Judge Tim Horton served 10 days in jail last year for campaign finance violations. And two women who worked for him accuse him of sexual harassment.

With his criminal case behind him, now he is trying to keep his spot on the bench.

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In July, the Ohio Supreme Court Board of Professional Conduct heard graphic emotional testimony from two women accusing Judge Timothy Horton of sexual misconduct:

"I was getting up to go to [the] bathroom, Judge Horton looked at me and said, 'Walk away slowly.' 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)," said a former intern identified by the initials "MB."

Horton denies sexually harassing anyone but admits to a sexual relationship with "MB" months after she left his office.

He also admits to what he called sexually charged, but consensual, conversations with the other woman, a former bailiff.

The misbehavior Horton admits to, he blames on his alcoholism.

Tuesday his attorneys presented recorded testimony from a retired Appeals Court Judge who himself is in recovery.

"I went through the same trial Judge Horton is going through, for all my DUIs. I had I think eight total arrests and two convictions as a judge," said John Connor. "Alcoholism is a disease, and I was 62 years old age before I figured out I was an alcoholic. If that's the case, and if he is an alcoholic and he's working on it, he can be a better judge than he ever was before."

Scott Mote, with the Ohio Lawyers Assistance Program, says Horton signed a three-year recovery contract with them in 2014, which including going to treatment. Horton says he's been sober since December 2016.

"The '(Columbus) Dispatch' articles would come out again and he started out with, 'They're after me again.' I said all they're doing is reporting the facts, pal, You're the one that did the stuff," said Mote.
"What did he say in response to that?" asked Robert Fitzgerald of the Board of Professional Conduct.
"Eventually he got to the point, where 'You're right, I need to accept this,'" said Mote.
"Did he ever finally acknowledge that he acted inappropriately or had spoken inappropriately?" asked Fitzgerald.
"No," Mote replied.

Testimony concludes on Thursday. After that, the Board of Professional Conduct will make a report and recommendation to the Ohio Supreme Court.

The justices will then have the final say on what discipline, if any, Horton receives. It could be several months before Horton learns his fate.

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