Orleans Parish Criminal Court judge retires amidst sexual harassment investigation
NEW ORLEANS - An Orleans Parish Criminal Court judge has retired amidst an ongoing sexual harassment inquiry that kept him off the bench for over a year.
WWL-TV reports that Judge Byron Williams announced his retirement in a Feb. 12 letter that was sent to Secretary of State, Kyle Ardoin.
Williams stepped off the bench in July of 2018 while the state Supreme Court initiated an investigation into sexual harassment claims made against him.
Some of the accusations included alleged unwanted physical contact with a female public defender.
According to WWL-TV, a letter documenting the incident describes Judge Williams treating the public defender inappropriately:
“Judge Williams noticed her, and excitedly told her to come in while grabbing her by the arm and pulling her to his side. Williams then placed his arm around her back/shoulder area.”
The letter continued, “Williams then directed the audience’s attention to the attorney’s appearance. He asked them to notice how well-dressed she is, how attractive she is and what a good size she is.”
The letter also alleged that Williams singled out a woman appearing in drug court and “asked the audience to compare her appearance to the attorney’s appearance.”
Williams has not been charged with any crimes.
WWL-TV reports that Williams is still earning his salary, which is likely in the neighborhood of $150,000 annually plus benefits.
Though Williams stepped down in 2018, his attorney released a statement saying Williams was "not guilty" and remained "confident that his name will ultimately be cleared."
There is less than a year left on Williams’ turn, so a special election will not be called to fill his seat.
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