U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent was sentenced today to 33 months in prison for obstruction of justice related to an investigation of a judicial misconduct complaint filed against him.
Kent, 59, a district judge in the Southern District of Texas, pleaded guilty to obstructing a special investigative committee of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit during an investigation of a judicial misconduct complaint filed against him. Kent was sentenced in federal court in Houston by Senior U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson for the Northern District of Florida, who was sitting by designation in the Southern District of Texas.
On Aug. 28, 2008, a grand jury in the Southern District of Texas indicted Kent, who was at that time a sitting U.S. District Judge for the Southern District of Texas, on two counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse for his alleged assaults in 2003 and 2007 on an employee of the Office of the Clerk of Court identified as Person A. On Jan. 6, 2009, the grand jury returned a superseding indictment against Kent. The superseding indictment incorporated the original charges and added three counts: one count each of abusive sexual contact and aggravated sexual abuse, based on Kent’s alleged repeated assaults on another U.S. District Court employee identified as Person B, and one count of obstruction of justice, based upon his obstruction of the Fifth Circuit’s investigation into a misconduct complaint filed by Person A.
On Feb. 23, 2009, Kent pleaded guilty to obstructing the judicial misconduct investigation into his sexual assaults. As part of his plea, Kent admitted that in both 2003 and 2007, he engaged in non-consensual sexual contact with Person A without her permission. He also admitted that he engaged in non-consensual contact from 2004 through at least 2005 with Person B without her permission. When Person A filed a misconduct complaint against him, the Fifth Circuit appointed a committee to investigate whether Kent had engaged in unwanted sexual contact with Person A and individuals other than Person A. Kent admitted that when he appeared before the committee in June 2007, he falsely testified about his conduct with Person B.
Kent was also ordered to pay a $1,000 fine as well as restitution of $3,300 to Person A and $3,250 to Person B. Kent was ordered to surrender on June 15, 2009.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Deputy Chief for Litigation Peter J. Ainsworth and Trial Attorneys John P. Pearson and AnnaLou T. Tirol of the Criminal Division’s Public Integrity Section, which is headed by Section Chief William M. Welch II. The case was investigated by the FBI.