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Porn-Addicted Judge Gets Two-Month Suspension

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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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(STMW) — A porn-addicted judge who used his courthouse computer to view hard-core sex websites has been suspended without pay for 60 days.

The Illinois Courts Commission ruled Friday that Will County Judge Joseph Polito must serve the two-month ban for what it called his “highly inappropriate behavior.”

The 69-year-old finally confessed a lifelong addiction to porn in November, seven months after the Chicago Sun-Times revealed he regularly looked at a variety of websites during work hours in 2010 and 2011.

In a written ruling, the commission accepted that Polito was addicted to porn, noting that “persons may become addicted to pornography as well as to alcohol or drugs.”

It found that Polito’s workplace porn habit hadn’t affected the quality of his work, but added “in an era of declining judicial resources, many judges carry heavy caseloads, and Judge Polito’s conduct was an inexcusable waste of judicial time that should have been spent on available judicial duties.”

Polito, who said he looked at porn in his chambers before and after his court call, might have faced a more severe punishment had he not already promised not to stand for retention when his current term ends in two and a half years, the commission wrote.

Polito’s attorney, William J. Martin said Friday afternoon that Polito thinks his 60-day suspension was “a very fair disposition of a very sensitive case.”

At a hearing before the commission in November, the judge broke down in tears, describing his unmasking as “a shameful and humbling experience” and apologizing for his conduct, which he said had begun when he was just 8 years old.

He said he sought professional help for a compulsive sexual disorder and that he attends a Sexuality Anonymous support group twice a week and hasn’t used porn in more than a year.

“I used pornography as a crutch to deal with my feelings of inadequacy,” he added at the hearing. “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.”

Will County’s Chief Judge Gerald Kinney tried for months to keep Polito’s identity secret from the Sun-Times, claiming that computer logs showing Polito’s porn use were “judicial records” exempt from the Freedom of Information Act. He was eventually overruled earlier this year by the Illinois Attorney General, leading to Polito’s unmasking.

Polito’s suspension begins Feb. 16. Formerly a divorce court judge, he has been serving as a floating judge handling traffic and other minor cases since April.

(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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