Federal Judge Indicted in Sex Abuse Case

Alleged victim "validated;" judge's lawyer says relationship was consensual.

Aug. 29, 2008— -- A federal judge in Texas stands accused of sexually abusing one of his staff members, according to charges filed Thursday.

A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against U.S. District Court Judge Samuel B. Kent, 59, for abusive sexual contact and attempted aggravated sexual abuse.

The alleged victim, identified only as "Person A" in the indictment, worked as a deputy court clerk assigned to Kent's court, the document says. A complaint against Kent filed with a judicial review panel in May 2007 identifies the woman as Cathy McBroom.

During an alleged incident in March 2007, Kent "attempted to cause Person A to engage in contact between Person A's mouth and defendant Kent's penis by forcing Person A's head toward defendant Kent's groin area," the indictment charges.

Additionally, the court documents allege that Kent "did knowingly engage in sexual contact with another person without that other person's permission" by inappropriately touching the alleged victim "with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, degrade" during the March 2007 incident and another in August 2003.

The indictment says that all of the alleged incidents occurred at the federal courthouse in Galveston, Texas, where Kent and McBroom worked. The Justice Department said in a statement that the FBI is involved in the investigation.

"After a very difficult 17 months, I feel like I have finally been validated," McBroom said in a statement released by her attorney Rusty Hardin. "I have listened and read with horror as Judge Kent's lawyer suggested that what happened to me was 'enthusiastically consensual.'"

"I am relieved to find that even federal judges are not above the law, and that sexual abuse in the workplace is never acceptable, no matter the status of the offender," the statement continued.

But Kent's attorney maintains that the relationship between the judge and his employee of six years was "completely consensual," and said in a statement that "Judge Kent is innocent of [the] charges."

"The first time she ever complained was when she was about to be fired," attorney Dick DeGuerin added. "Then she successfully avoided getting fired by making this [sic] outrageous claims that are not true. We will contest it and we will go to trial."

In May 2007, McBroom filed a sexual harassment complaint against Kent. A federal judiciary panel admonished him last September, reassigning some of his cases and ordering him to take a four-month leave of absence as a result of the review.

The court system also relocated Kent to Houston. He began work there on Jan. 2, after his leave ended.

DeGuerin calls the situation "a classic swearing match between a woman who has motive to lie" and his client, who has "faithfully served the public" as a judge and lawyer.

McBroom has not spoken publicly about the case, but her mother, Mary Ann Schopp, told ABC News in December that her daughter "could hardly control herself, she was so upset" about the alleged incidents.

President George H.W. Bush appointed Kent to the federal bench in the Southern District of Texas in 1990. Federal judgeships are lifetime appointments.

According to his online biography, Kent worked in private practice in Galveston for 15 years prior to his appointment, and holds bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Texas.

ABC News' Scott Michels contributed to this report.