- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 3, 2000

The Maryland state legislature's women's caucus voted unanimously yesterday to file a misconduct complaint against a Montgomery County judge who angered many in the community for saying a preteen girl shared the blame with a man who sexually molested her.

In a letter to Maryland Court of Special Appeals Judge Sally D. Adkins, chairman of the Commission on Judicial Disabilities, the lawmakers asked for an investigation into Circuit Judge Durke G. Thompson for instances of "judicial misconduct."

The judge angered child advocates and prosecutors Jan. 4 when he said it "takes two to tango" as he sentenced Vladimir Chacon-Bonilla, 24, to five years in jail with all but 18 months suspended for a second-degree sex offense with the girl, 11.

Based upon Judge Thompson's recent comments, the Women Legislators of Maryland are asking the judicial review commission to investigate his past decisions and statements, because of a "reported pattern of similar bias in other rape and sexual assault cases." Their letter states Judge Thompson violated part of the state code of judicial conduct concerning bias or prejudice.

"The discussion [yesterday] was in agreement to the egregious [nature] of the judge's action," said Delegate Sharon Grosfeld, a women's caucus member also on the House Judiciary Committee. "We just don't want something informal done."

"If in fact there is a demonstrated pattern … then removal would be warranted," said Mrs. Grosfeld, Montgomery County Democrat, adding that therapy or sensitivity training would not be sufficient to keep him on the bench.

The lawmakers cited several women's groups and victims' rights advocates who have observed Judge Thompson's court. These groups expressed concern about his comments and imposition of lenient sentences on sex offenders.

"I'm not going to comment" about the complaints, Judge Thompson said in a phone interview yesterday. "My record is a public record, and anybody can look it up."

The women's caucus asked Judge Adkins and the review board to specifically investigate the case of the State vs. Andre Kelley.

In January 1998, Judge Thompson sentenced former Einstein High School coach Andre Kelley to 17 years in prison but suspended all but six months in jail, with three years of probation, for sexually abusing five students.

The Montgomery County chapter of the National Association for Women (NOW) filed the first complaint last month with the state commission, the same day that Judge Thompson released a statement recusing himself from the Chacon-Bonilla case. The Montgomery County Victim Services Advisory Board also filed a complaint on Jan. 12.

Judge Thompson backed off his choice of language in an interview with The Washington Times last month, but made no apologies for what he meant when sentencing Chacon-Bonilla.

All 55 female legislators in the General Assembly are members of the Women Legislators of Maryland caucus, including 44 Democrats and 11 Republicans.

The caucus was started in 1972 to "push the recognition of women and their abilities."

The Commission on Judicial Disabilities is an 11-member body appointed by the governor and made up of three judges, three lawyers and five citizen-members, said Steven P. Lemmey, investigative counsel for the commission.

After an investigation of the formal complaint, the commission can choose several courses of action, from dismissing the complaint to recommending the judge's removal from the bench. "Recommendations of removal are rare," said Mr. Lemmey, who could not comment about the specifics of the complaint against Judge Thompson.

Maryland Gov. William Donald Schaefer appointed Judge Thompson to the Circuit Court in 1994.

Five months later, Judge Thompson ruled that a Connecticut woman who accused Washington Wizards professional basketball player Juwan Howard of sexual improprieties during a party at his Potomac House should pay Mr. Howard $1 in compensatory damages and $100,000 in punitive damages.

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