The government raised the stakes in the criminal case against U.S. District Judge Sam Kent of Texas, accusing a man who swore to protect the system with thwarting it instead, reports the Houston Chronicle. Experts say an obstruction of justice charge added to sexual abuse allegations against Kent this week boosts the government’s overall case in several ways. That new charge may be the easiest to prove and carries a hefty 20-year sentence. It also takes the matter beyond the “he said/she said” standoff of the sexual charges.
“This has significantly upped the ante,” said University of Pittsburgh law Prof. Arthur Hellman. “If proved, his career – not just as a judge, but as a lawyer – would be over.” Kent, based in Galveston, denies wrongdoing. He was indicted in August on three counts of abusive sexual contact or aggravated sexual abuse against a former case manager. On Tuesday, the same grand jury indicted him on charges that he had abusive sexual contact and committed aggravated sexual abuse of another female employee, and that he obstructed justice by lying to a federal judicial panel investigating his conduct.