Judge accused of inappropriate relations, sexting drug and alcohol court participant’s girlfriend

Photo credit: Thinkstock

Photo credit: Thinkstock

BRADFORD COUNTY, Pa. — A northeastern Pennsylvania judge who ascribed to “honesty is part of the basis for treatment court,” is at the center of a misconduct investigation for sexting, and having sex, with the girlfriend of a defendant in his drug and alcohol treatment court.

Court documents show that Judge Shaw in June or July 2014 was removed by President Judge Maureen T. Beirne from his position as Presiding Judge of Treatment Court at the Court of Common Pleas of Bradford County. Based on a confidential request for investigation, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board instantly investigated the matter.

According to court documents, in February 2014, the girlfriend of a treatment court participant allegedly contacted Judge Shaw through his Facebook page and informed him that she planned to break up with her boyfriend. The girlfriend believed the court participant would be upset when she ended their relationship, and she expressed concern about her ex’s potential reaction.

In response to her Facebook message, Judge Shaw called the girlfriend. During their conversation, she voiced her concerns about her ex’s counseling, court supervision, and the possibility that he would relapse because of his history of alcohol dependency, court documents report.

Judge Shaw sent a text message to the girlfriend and asked her for an update about her plans to end her relationship with his participant. Judge Shaw continued to send frequent text messages to her from February 2014 through April 2014. Judge Shaw admits that some of the text messages were very flirtatious.

Court documents detail the relationship shared between the girlfriend and Judge Shaw. Text messages were sexual in nature and were alleged to be sexting. Over the course of a month, Judge Shaw exchanged text and sext messages on a frequent basis, at least once a day, court documents report. Judge Shaw also paid for a hotel room in Binghamton, N.Y., where he engaged in sexual relations and stayed at the hotel for approximately two hours.

The state’s Judicial Conduct Board filed Tuesday formal administrative charges against Judge Shaw. According to the complaint, the Pennsylvania Judicial Conduct Board determined that there is probable cause to file formal charges against Shaw based on Pennsylvania’s Constitution.

Under the Pennsylvania Constitution, Judge Shaw, as the subject of the charges, is presumed innocent in all proceedings before the Court of Judicial Discipline. The board has the burden of proving the charges filed in the Court of Judicial Discipline by clear and convincing evidence.

Judge Shaw has the right to respond to the charges, to obtain and inspect the evidence which forms the basis of the allegations, and to a public trial before the Court of Judicial Discipline.

Upon completion of the trial, if the Court determines that any of the charges have been proven by clear and convincing evidence, it will schedule a Sanctions Hearing to determine what sanction should be imposed. Possible sanctions include censure, suspension, fine or removal from office.