Richard Roberts, the Chief Judge of the US District Court in DC, resigned earlier this week citing unspecified health reasons, shortly after a lawsuit was filed accusing him of rape. Allegedly, as a 27-year-old prosecutor handling a murder case in Utah against a white supremacist, he coerced the primary witness, a woman who was then 16, into an ongoing sexual relationship. The judge admits to the relationship but says it was consensual and that any sexual activity took place after she testified. She allegedly has some recorded conversations that corroborate coercion. Even best case, this looks remarkably unethical.
The woman filing the lawsuit says that he intimidated her into silence by telling her that the murder defendant’s conviction would be overturned if she told anyone what had happened. Insidiously, this is almost certainly true. That defendant was later convicted of other murders and executed. Apparently, the judge contacted this woman after the execution, and that prompted her to come forward. She initially approached the Utah Attorney General’s office, which retained a retired federal judge to review her allegations. That judge found the allegations credible, and the Utah AG shared them with various federal authorities.
If I understand correctly, another judge signed off on his resignation being for genuine health reasons. By resigning for disability, Roberts keeps a lifetime pension equivalent to his full salary, and he cannot be disciplined by the judiciary. I believe that Congress can still seek to impeach him, in order to cut off his pension.