The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

State News

April 29, 2014

Judge is accused of violating code

CHARLESTON — A Randolph County judge who acknowledged having an affair with a community corrections official has been charged by the Judicial Investigation Commission with violating several canons of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The canons include integrity of the judiciary, impression of improper influence, required disqualification and conduct of extrajudicial activities.

The charges released Monday by the West Virginia Supreme Court allege that Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Wilfong performed sexual acts with former North Central Community Corrections director Travis Carter in her judicial chambers between court proceedings. Wilfong also is accused of sending sexually explicit e-mails, texts, instant messages and nude photos of herself to Carter on his county-issued telephone and computer.

In a response to the charges, Wilfong admitted to performing oral sex on Carter in her office “three or less times” but denied that the acts occurred between court proceedings. She also admitted to sending the sexually explicit material to Carter.

Wilfong self-reported the affair to the commission in October 2013. Carter resigned his position with the community corrections program in December 2013.

The commission also alleged that Wilfong failed to disclose the relationship to the community corrections program’s board, although she is a non-voting member. She also failed to disclose the relationship in court proceedings in which Carter or his staff was called on to provide testimony or opinions regarding a defendant’s participation in the program.

Wilfong said Carter never testified in her court during the relationship. She said the relationship did not affect her decisions about using the community corrections program or any other matters before her.

“The Statement of Charges does not allege that my work on the bench was compromised by the relationship; it alleges that the appearance of the judicial system and its integrity were harmed and I admit that,” she wrote. “I know have the benefit of hindsight and others’ perspectives on this situation and I admit it was harmful to my position and the public’s perception of my position.”

No litigant has requested a hearing or suggested that he or she was treated differently or unfairly as a result of the relationship with Carter, the judge said.

She said the relationship with Carter was inappropriate because they each were married to other people and she takes full responsibility for her actions.

The charges will be considered by the Judicial Hearing Board, which will then make a recommendation to the Supreme Court. Wilfong, a member of the hearing board, said she has resigned her seat.


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