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Judge Admits Porn Addiction Since Childhood

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Will County Judge Joseph Polito leaves the Will County Court House on April11, 2012. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

Will County Judge Joseph Polito leaves the Will County Court House on April11, 2012. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times

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JOLIET (CBS) — A Will County judge who secretly viewed hard-core pornography on his courthouse computer fought back tears Thursday as he confessed he’d been addicted to porn since he was a little boy.

Joseph C. Polito, 69, was battling for his judicial career at a hearing before the Illinois Courts Commission — seven months after the Chicago Sun-Times prompted an official investigation by revealing his workplace porn habit.

“This is a shameful and humbling experience,” Polito told the seven commissioners who will decide his fate. “I acknowledge I did not uphold the high standards of conduct my position required.”

Apologizing to his fellow judges, the people of Will County, his wife and three children, Polito said he has sought professional help for a compulsive sexual disorder, adding that he attends a Sexuality Anonymous support group twice a week and hasn’t used porn in more than a year.

But he said that though he’d looked at porn in his chambers before his court call began in the morning, and in the afternoon after his court call had been completed, “It had absolutely no effect on the hundreds of decisions I made as a judge.”

He said that like other porn addicts he’s met at his support group, he’d started looking at porn when he was “age 8 or 9.”

“I used pornography as a crutch to deal with my feelings of inadequacy,” he added. “For 60 years this was an inner conflict — I was ashamed, I didn’t feel good about it and tried to stop. The only way I knew to address it was in a confession with a priest.”

Polito, of Joliet, was charged in July by the Judicial Inquiry Board with two counts of violating the judicial code after an article revealed he regularly looked at pornographic websites in 2010 and 2011.

He admits the first charge, that his actions “brought the judicial office into disrepute,” but denies the second, that he had not conducted “himself in a manner that promotes public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”

The courts commission, which will issue a written ruling at a later date, could discipline him with anything from a reprimand to termination.

John Gallo, representing the inquiry board, praised Polito for being “honest to his own detriment” in admitting his addiction and that he knew what he was doing was wrong but noted that other state workers have been dismissed for using porn in the workplace.

Polito’s attorney, William J. Martin, suggested that Polito’s public embarrassment should be punishment enough.

Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2010. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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