Hearing begins into NKY judge accused of sexual misconduct, retaliation

Day 1 of misconduct hearing for Judge Dawn Gentry

NEWPORT, Ky. (FOX19) - The week-long misconduct trial of a Kenton County judge got underway Monday in the Campbell County Courthouse.

The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission temporarily removed Kenton County Family Court Judge Dawn Gentry from the bench amid several allegations in January. The commission could potentially remove Gentry from the bench.

Gentry took the stand Monday in the nine-hour hearing to defend herself against a dozen charges including having sex with coworkers in her office during work hours and making unwanted advances toward coworkers, court records show.

She is also accused of forcing a coworker to quit in order to make room for another, with whom the commission believes Gentry had a sexual relationship.

Other charges accuse the judge forcing people to donate to her campaign and retaliation if they refused, court documents state.

Last month, the Judicial Conduct Commission unveiled the final three charges against her, according to the court record:

  • Failure to be candid and honest with the commission;
  • Retaliation against someone who cooperated with the commission’s investigation;
  • Failure to disclose a personal relationship on the record.

Gentry admitted to some allegations Monday, though she denied several of the more serious ones, including that she had a sexual relationship with her former Church Pastor Stephen Penrose. She did admit to a “close-knit” relationship with him that she agreed “probably (...) violated the code of judicial conduct.”

Gentry is currently suspended with pay.

Former Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin tapped Gentry, 39, for the judge’s seat in 2016 to fill a vacancy.

Two years later, she was elected to her current four-year term and is paid $136,900 annually.

Gentry has denied the charges under oath the commission, court documents show.

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