By Kirsten Korosec
December 18, 2017

Alex Kozinski, a high-profile federal judge, retired Monday following sexual harassment accusations from at least 15 women.

Kozinski served on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in California for 32 years. He was appointed to the Ninth Circuit—the largest federal appeals court in the U.S., by former President Ronald Reagan in 1985. He served as chief judge of the court from 2007 to 2014.

Kozinski issued a statement Monday explaining he was stepping down because he cannot “be an effective judge and simultaneously fight this battle.” He also apologized to the women who accused him of sexual harassment, saying, “It grieves me to learn that I caused any of my clerks to feel uncomfortable; this was never my intent. For this I sincerely apologize.”

The allegations against Kozinski span decades and involve women who worked for him as well as those who encountered him at events, according to The Washington Post, which broke the initial story. The newspaper’s first report on Dec. 8 details accusations from six women, all former clerks or junior staff members, who alleged the judge had made sexual comments or acted inappropriately, including hugging and kissing them. Two women said Kozinski showed them pornography in his chambers.

More women have since come forward.

Last week, the chief judge of the Ninth Circuit started a formal inquiry into Kozinski. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts transferred the formal investigation to the federal appeals court based in New York following a request from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Chief Judge Sidney Thomas. The transfer was requested to ensure impartiality.

Kozinski has faced accusations of misconduct. The Los Angeles Times reported in 2008 that Kozinski, who was chief judge of the Ninth Circuit at the time, maintained a publicly accessible website featuring sexually explicit photos and videos. One photo depicted naked women on all fours painted to look like cows. Kozinski initially told the LA Times that the site was for his private storage and that he was not aware the images could be seen by the public. He did acknowledge that he shared some material on the site with friends, and while he said some material was inappropriate, he defended other content as “funny,” the paper reported.

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