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U.S. District Judge Samuel Kent plans to keep hearing court cases while facing prosecution on charges he fondled a former court employee, according to the chief judge for the Southern District of Texas.

"The only way he doesn't receive cases is if he's no longer a judge," U.S. District Judge Hayden Head Jr. said in Saturday editions of the Houston Chronicle.

Following a Department of Justice investigation, a federal grand jury on Thursday indicted Kent on two counts of abusive sexual contact and one count of attempted aggravated sexual abuse. His attorney, Dick DeGuerin, has said Kent is innocent.

Kent has been ordered to appear before U.S. Circuit Judge Edward C. Prado on Wednesday. DeGuerin said that, by agreement, Kent will be released without bond on his own recognizance.

Kent, a federal judge for 18 years, is not planning to take the day off, according to the newspaper.

"The choice is his," said U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, one of Kent's colleagues in Houston. "After all, he's (presumed) innocent. That's how we work around here."

The indictment came after a Justice Department investigation of Kent that began in November.

The investigation was prompted after Kent's former case manager, Cathy McBroom, accused the judge of repeatedly harassing her over a four-year period. McBroom has said the harassment culminated in a March 2007 incident in Kent's Galveston court chambers, where the judge allegedly pulled up her blouse and bra and tried to escalate contact before being interrupted.

DeGuerin, Kent's attorney, has said that everything that happened between Kent and McBroom was consensual.

McBroom's allegations were first investigated by the Judicial Council of the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which reprimanded Kent in September 2007. The council gave no details about the allegations, only saying a complaint alleging sexual harassment had been filed against Kent.

The council ordered the judge to go on leave for four months. Kent still collected his $165,000 annual salary.

McBroom was transferred to Houston, located 50 miles northwest of Galveston, after reporting her allegations.

Kent, as part of his punishment by the judicial council, also was relocated to Houston.


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