Complaint against Hamilton County judge alleges misconduct, harassment, records show

Complaint against Hamilton County judge alleges misconduct, harassment, records show

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A complaint has been filed alleging a Hamilton County judge’s misconduct and harassment of a court employee, documents show.

According to a recently filed complaint, Judge Theodore Berry first contacted the court employee, named Jane Doe in the records, between Aug. 19 and Oct. 18 of 2019 when he sent her a friend request on Facebook.

Jane Doe started working at the Hamilton County Municipal Court but was not assigned to Berry’s courtroom, the complaint states.

Berry posted a celebratory photo on Facebook for the 100th anniversary of the Hamilton County courthouse on Oct. 18, 2019. Later that day, the complaint says Jane Doe liked the anniversary photos posted by Berry.

Berry then allegedly sent the court employee a private Facebook message thanking her for liking the photos and inquiring about her role at the court.

Jane Doe responded and was sent another message by Berry reportedly asking her to “stop by [his] Chambers in Room 226 [because he] look[s] forward to meeting [her]!!”

On Oct. 25, 2019, the complaint says Jane Doe received a message from Berry saying she did not come to his chambers.

The two messaged back and forth, and at one point Berry asked for the court employee’s phone number, according to the complaint.

“Jane Doe felt that because respondent [Berry] was a judge, she could not refuse to give him her personal cell phone number,” the complaint reads.

Berry proceeded to text and call Jane Doe and even asked her out to lunch, but she declined, documents state.

The judge sent a Facebook message to Jane Doe on Oct. 30 telling her to come down to visit, and he had an “offer you can’t refuse,” the complaint details.

Jane Doe did not respond.

Berry, a few days later, again asked her out for lunch or drinks, but Jane Doe did not respond.

Before Berry asked Jane Doe out, he sent 38 Facebook messages, and she responded 41 times.

After he asked her out, Berry sent 72 messages, and Jane Doe responded 15 times, according to the complaint. Berry admitted to this, documents show.

The messages sent by Berry, according to the complaint, contained videos with offensive and sexually explicit content.

“On Sunday, Feb. 16, 2020, respondent [Berry] sent Jane Doe a video entitled ‘How to end a first date,’” the complaint reads. “The video contains crude, sexually explicit language in which a woman is negotiating sexual favors in exchange for gifts with a man who is seeking commitment-free sex from the woman, whom he describes as dumb and boring.”

Rather than responding, Jane Doe went to her boss and co-worker to inform them of Berry’s actions.

The court administration was then notified and began an investigation.

After investigating, a relator requested that Berry be found in violation of the Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct and be sanctioned accordingly, the complaint says.

FOX19 NOW did reach out to Judge Berry’s office for a comment. His Bailiff said that it is a pending matter, so he is not able to release a comment.

We also reached out to the Disciplinary Counsel and they did not return our calls.

Judge Berry has until April 12 to respond to the complaint.

A hearing is expected later this Summer.

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