Former Judge Bryan Hedges faces removal over child sex incident

The New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct has concluded that a child sex incident that predated his 27 years as an Onondaga County Family Court judge constitutes misconduct that disqualifies Bryan R. Hedges from ever again being a judge.

The commission is recommending permanent removal of Hedges, who resigned in April after learning he was under investigation for the 1972 incident. The lengthy report is available in its entirety here.

Commission Administrator Robert H. Tembeckjian issued the following statement: "It is not common to remove a judge for behavior that occurred years before taking the bench. But sexual misconduct with a child is so egregious that, even if it comes to light decades later, it must be addressed. An act of such moral turpitude undermines the integrity of the judiciary and disqualifies the perpetrator from being a judge."

The victim is Ellen Cantwell Warner. In the Commission report she talks about living with the image of the sexual act for the last forty years. She claims it has hindered her sex life with her husband. She said she cannot get rid of the memories and they continue to traumatize her. She will discuss her abuse at a Thursday morning news conference.

Hedges issued the following written statement: "I am devastated by the Commissionâ??s actions. The allegations are untrue. The administrative process is deficient in terms of being a fair fact finding procedure. I hope the Court of Appeals will reverse."

Hedges' lawyer, Robert Julian, issued the following written statement: "We are appealing to the New York State Court of Appeals the determination of the Commission on Judicial Conduct. Therefore, this case is pending and I do not believe it appropriate to make further comment pending the argument and a determination by the Court of Appeals."

A call to Hedges' lawyer wasn't immediately returned Thursday. He can appeal the finding.

According to the commission, the incident occurred when Hedges was 25 and involved his then 5-year-old deaf niece. It became known this year and they gave differing accounts.

Attorney William Easton, the referee who presided at the disciplinary hearing in June, recommended that the misconduct charge against Hedges be sustained.

Read the media release.

Read the court documents.(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)