A former clerk who worked for Kozinksi between 2006 and 2007 told the Washington Post that the judge called her into his office multiple times and showed her pornography on her computer, asking if it sexually aroused her.
“I was in a state of emotional shock, and what I really wanted to do was be as small as possible and make as few movements as possible and to say as little as possible to get out,” Heidi Bond, 41, said to the paper. Another former clerk made a similar allegation against the 67-year-old Kozinksi.
Four of the women who made the allegations to the Post asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation, according to the paper. The other woman who spoke on the record, Emily Murphy — a former clerk who worked for another judge on the 9th Circuit — said Kozinksi in September 2012 said she should work out naked at the courthouse gym during a discussion about workout routines with other clerks.
“It wasn’t just clear that he was imagining me naked, he was trying to invite other people — my professional colleagues — to do so as well,” Murphy said. “That was what was humiliating about it.”
In a statement to the Post, Kozinski said: “I have been a judge for 35 years and during that time have had over 500 employees in my chambers. I treat all of my employees as family and work very closely with most of them. I would never intentionally do anything to offend anyone and it is regrettable that a handful have been offended by something I may have said or done.”
This is not the first time Kozinski has been the subject of controversy regarding sexually explicit material. A 2008 report from the Los Angeles Times revealed that the jurist had a publicly accessible website that contained pornographic material and additionally maintained an email list used to share crude jokes, sometimes with sexual themes.
Kozinski was ultimately cleared of any consequences as a judicial investigation found that Kozinski did not intend to distribute the material to the public. But, Bond recalled, according to the Post, Kozinski or his assistant reached out to her during that time to inquire if she would be willing to defend his character. She wrote her friend, novelist Eva Ortega, about the situation, according to emails both women shared with the Post.
“I know he brought you into his office to show you porn, I know he made sexual innuendos to you. I know this because you told me so in DC, and you even used the words sexual harassment,” Ortega wrote. “You said you would warn off other women thinking of clerking for him. And if there’s a woman out there he harassed worse than you, do you really want to be pitted against her? Because that’s what it would be.
“I’m worried that this is what he’s asking you to do — to be the female, intelligent face of his defense and make whoever it is accusing him look like a stupid slut, and then he hopefully never has to actually address those allegations,” Ortega continued.
Kozinski was appointed to the 9th Circuit by President Ronald Reagan in 1985. From 2007 to 2014, he was the chief judge of the court.