U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent of Galveston, Tex., pleaded guilty today to one count of obstruction of justice, avoiding a trial on six charges of sexually abusing two female employees, reports the Houston Chronicle. Kent’s trial was scheduled to start today. Few federal judges ever go to trial; his would have been the first in which a federal judge was accused of sexual charges.
Kent, 59, was appointed by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 and was the sole district federal judge in Galveston for many years. Prosecutors are expected to seek a three-year prison term. Kent was appointed for life and can be removed only by congressional impeachment. A federal judicial council reprimanded him in 2007.