Judge Dawn Gentry appeals Judicial Conduct Commission decision to remove her from the bench

Judge Dawn Gentry appeals Judicial Conduct Commission decision to remove her from the bench
Cincinnati_Enquirer_Dawn_Gentry (Source: Meg Vogel/ The Enquirer)

CINCINNATI (Cincinnati Enquirer) - Dawn Gentry is still fighting to keep her job as a family court judge in Kenton County.

Gentry filed an appeal with the Kentucky Supreme Court to challenge the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission’s decision to remove her from office. In August, the commission held a week-long misconduct hearing and found Gentry guilty on 10 of 12 misconduct charges that claimed she used sex, coercion and retaliation as tools in her judgeship.

The Enquirer confirmed Gentry’s appeal with Judicial Conduct Commission Executive Secretary Jimmy Shaffer and a clerk with the Kentucky Supreme Court.

When it kicked Gentry off the bench, the commission did not criticize any of her final rulings but said her misconduct was still too great for her to keep her job.

An Enquirer report in December revealed the judge was under investigation. Attorneys at the time told The Enquirer Gentry retaliated against those who denied her sex and campaign donations by delaying cases that involved abused children. She was also criticized for having an inappropriate relationship with her case specialist, Stephen Penrose, her former church pastor, bandmate and alleged sexual partner.

Gentry, 39, made $136,900 year. She became a judge in 2016 when former Republican Gov. Matt Bevin appointed her to the position. She won an eight-year term to the bench after her 2018 election.

Jeff Lawson, Gentry’s Covington-based attorney, did not answer The Enquirer’s request for comment about the appeal process.

In August, Lawson told The Enquirer that removal from the bench is “the equivalent of the judicial death penalty.” He added that Gentry expected to be punished but that the commission went too far.

If Gentry’s appeal fails, it will be up to Gov. Andy Beshear to fill the vacancy.

The new judge would serve for the remainder of Gentry’s term. Then, he or she would have to launch a campaign to be elected to an eight-year term.

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