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Judge Kozinski Steps Down in the Face of Multiple Sexual Harassment Allegations

WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 16:  Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on March 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Judges with the Ninth testified before the committee about the restructuring of that court.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
Ninth Circuit Appeals Court Judge Alex Kozinski testifies during a House Judiciary Committee hearing on March 16 in Washington. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Alex Kozinski, one of the most powerful judges in the country, announced Monday he was immediately retiring in the face of multiple allegations of sexual misconduct, according to the Washington Post. Kozinski, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, was facing a judicial conduct inquiry after 15 women accused him of sexual harassment.

Kozinski was first accused of misconduct in a Dec. 8 Post article in which six former clerks or staffers accused the 67-year-old judge of inappropriate behavior or comments, including claims he called two former clerks into his chambers in separate instances to show them porn and told another clerk she should exercise while naked.

On Dec. 13, Slate’s Dahlia Lithwick published a firsthand account of being sexually harassed by Kozinski in the 1990s, when she was a clerk for another judge in the 9th Circuit. Afterward, another former clerk wrote in a personal blog about her experience. The 9th Circuit’s chief judge opened the investigation into Kozinksi’s behavior on Dec. 14, and the next day, the Post reported seven more women accused the judge of misconduct over decades. Four said he touched them inappropriately.

In a statement, Kozinski apologized and said he “had a broad sense of humor and a candid way of speaking to both male and female law clerks.”

“I may not have been mindful enough of the special challenges and pressures that women face in the workplace,” he said in the statement. He said he was retiring because he “cannot be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle.”

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