SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The policymaking body for California's courts said Friday it has paid more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds since 2011 to settle five complaints of sexual harassment against judges and court employees.
The Judicial Council said three of the complaints were against judges and two were against court employees, and it has paid another roughly $80,000 since 2010 to investigate sexual harassment allegations against five judicial officers.
"Any form of harassment is unwelcome in any workplace, and while there have been a limited number of reported incidents, it's still too many," said Cathal Conneely, a spokesman for the Judicial Council.
The council serves as a lawyer for judges and court employees accused of misconduct. Attorney-client privilege and other ethical obligations of attorneys do not allow it to disclose any names or details of the individual cases, the council said in an email disclosing the figures.
The figures may not reflect all of the money paid out to settle harassment claims against state judges and court staff because individual courts can reach their own deals without involving the Judicial Council.
The figures came as the California Legislature has been embroiled in a sexual misconduct scandal that has brought down several lawmakers.
In January, the Sacramento Bee reported that California paid more than $25 million in three years to settle sexual harassment claims against state agencies and public universities, with most of it paid by taxpayers.
The newspaper identified 92 sexual harassment settlements involving 24 state agencies and 10 university campuses during the three years ending June 30.
The figure did not include the judicial branch.
The figures from the Judicial Council were first reported by the legal publication, the Recorder.
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