Let’s start this story with what we know for sure. Former Oklahoma County District Judge Tim Henderson resigned from his position in April following allegations of sexual misconduct. Now the former judge has admitted that he had “sexual conduct” with a prosecutor who appeared before him, though he claims it was a consensual relationship that ended in 2018.
The prosecutor said that Henderson began sexually abusing her in April 2016 through July or August of 2018. She also said Henderson told her in 2019 that she needed to “get over it” since their “relationship” was over.
But one defendant, who was convicted in Henderson’s court with the prosecutor accusing the judge of misconduct serving as one of the three prosecuting attorneys earlier this year, would like a new trial. As reported by the Oklahoman:
Jurors on Feb. 2 convicted Robert Leon Hashagen III of first-degree murder in the death of a 94-year-old woman during a 2013 burglary. He is seeking a new trial because of the secret “sexual relationship.”
“The integrity of the judiciary … is very much in question here,” his attorney, James Lockard, argued at an evidentiary hearing Monday. “We can’t have faith that the verdict is a fair one.”
The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals will rule on the motion for a new trial. In a statement to that court, Henderson insisted his behavior in the trial was all above board:
“At all times during the Hashagen case I maintained my role as a neutral and detached judicial officer,” Henderson said. “My rulings were fair and supported by the evidence and facts presented by the attorneys.”
He said he presided over more than 100 jury trials before resigning.
“None of the jury trials that I have presided over have been reversed for any reason by the Court of Criminal Appeals,” he said.
He specifically disputed that the prosecutor accusing him is a victim of sexual assault or sexual abuse. He said their “consensual affair included texts, phone calls, emails and cards” from her. He said it also included “sexual conduct in my office, in her apartment and in hotel rooms secured by and paid for by” her.
But this isn’t the only case where Henderson’s impartiality has been called into question. The Court of Criminal Appeals has ordered a hearing in a drug conviction case since a different prosecutor has also accused the former judge of sexual misconduct:
A convicted heroin dealer, Aaron Lamar Fort, complained on appeal that Henderson was clearly not impartial “because he was sexually assaulting or having an affair with the prosecuting attorney in this case.”
Henderson has claimed that was consensual as well.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, host of The Jabot podcast, and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).