Judges Fire Back Over Porn Scandal

Justices of the the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, from top left: Seamus P. McCaffery, Max Baer, Debra McCloskey Todd and Joan Orie Melvin. From lower left: Thomas G. Saylor, Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille and J. Michael Eakin. — AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is expected to move on a request by Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille to suspend Justice Seamus McCaffery over the sexually explicit e-mails he received.

Last week Chief Justice Castille strongly urged his judicial colleagues to suspend McCaffery from his duties and initiate a special investigation regarding the 230 sexually explicit e-mails McCaffery allegedly received from 2008 to 2012. A decision regarding what kind of action will or will not be taken against McCaffery may happen this week. State Supreme Court judges have the authority to suspend a colleague if the grounds are found to be egregious enough.

On Oct. 10, Castille met with a forensic technician from Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office in response to his request the office produce all emails involving sexually explicit materials sent by or to a member of the judiciary. The technician followed up with a report the attorney general searched its archive of emails for the period from late 2008 to May 2012 for all emails involving any justice of the Supreme Court and identified 4,000 such emails. Two-thousand eight hundred of the emails were identified as involving McCaffery.

Further examination of those more than 2,000 emails involving Justice McCaffery identified 234 emails that contained sexually explicit or pornographic photographs or videos either allegedly sent by or to McCaffery. No other Supreme Court justice was identified as having sent or received any sexually explicit emails.

In a statement released by Castille’s office the attorney general’s agent advised the chief justice the 234 emails contained 1,502 sexually explicit images and 60 sexually explicit video files, some of which were duplicates. He estimated the number of unique images to be between 700 to 800 and the number of unique videos to be approximately 45. The agent provided the chief justice with heavily redacted copies of the emails without the attachments and displayed many of the images and videos on a laptop computer. The large majority of emails were sent by McCaffery to an agent of the Office of Attorney General who has since retired. The agent then forwarded the materials to numerous individuals, most of whose names were redacted in the copies provided to the chief justice.

“This matter is under further review by the Supreme Court,” Castille said.

McCaffery claimed Castille is on a mission to get him and is fixated on taking him down, according to a statement last week. McCaffery is a former Philadelphia police officer and was elected to the high court seven years ago. He also gained a reputation for presiding over a municipal court in the basement of the former Veterans Stadium after melees and fistfights at Eagles games amplified the perception of Philadelphia sports fans’ boorish behavior.

“Ron Castille’s statement, issued on Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts letterhead and purporting to represent the position of the entire Supreme Court, was a lie,” McCaffery said. “In fact, members of the Supreme Court did not even know about the statement until they read the publication. And it is only the latest lie in the Chief Justice’s egomaniacal mission to ‘get me.’ This latest cooked-up controversy over my personal emails is part of a vindictive pattern of attacks by the soon-to-be-retired chief justice, Ronald Castille.

“He is fixated on taking down a fellow justice with his misleading statements and incredible hypocrisy,” he continued. “Isn’t it time for the press to ask the real question: Why is the chief justice fixated on hurling one accusation after another at me in an ongoing attempt to discredit me? We all know what is motivating this unwarranted and unprecedented attack. I can no longer sit by and allow these attacks to continue without comment.”

McCaffery said Castille led the state Supreme Court during one of its most scandal-ridden eras since its inception in 1722. He went on to say in the statement Castille wants to single him out to condemn him for what he characterized as a “personal lapse in judgment.”

“His mission began when he reported me to the Federal Bureau of Investigation over my wife’s legitimate receipt of referral fees, and that didn’t work,” McCaffery said. “He has done everything possible within our court to undermine me with my colleagues, and that didn’t work. Now, with only two months left in the hourglass of his tenure on our court, he is trying to finish what he has been trying to do for so many years. He has been on this mission because I had the guts to challenge him on the Family Court fiasco and on what the citizens of Pennsylvania got for the more than $3 million of First Judicial District funds that were funneled to one of his closest friends. And I had the guts to challenge him on his disastrous handling of Pennsylvania’s worst judicial scandal and a tragic injustice that will forever be known as the ‘Kids for Cash’ disaster.”

The Kids for Cash scandal came to light in 2007 when the Juvenile Law Center began investigating Luzerne County’s juvenile court. What it uncovered was Judge Mark Ciavarella was allowing youthful defendants to appear before him without counsel and sentencing them for minor offenses. The defendants were swiftly transferred to out-of-home placement facilities. Allegedly, Ciavarella accepted more than $2 million in kickbacks from two private youth detention facilities. The United States Attorney filed criminal charges against those involved.

The issue involving the pornographic e-mails began coming to light in September, when State Attorney General Kathleen Kane allowed the media to look at a sampling of the more than 1,000 sexually explicit videos and pictures. They were allegedly received by former and current state employees between 2008 and 2012 and released as part of her office’s review of the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.

Contact staff writer

Larry Miller

at (215) 893-5747

or lmiller@phillytrib.com

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