CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — The Illinois Courts Commission on Thursday ruled that Cook County Judge Mauricio Araujo violated the Code of Judicial Conduct in multiple acts of sexual harassment toward women, but did not order any disciplinary action – as Araujo resigned from the bench last month.
Araujo had been up for retention in the election this past Tuesday, but resigned back on Oct. 1 before the commission could remove him.
On June 5, 2019, the Judicial Inquiry Board filed a complaint with the commission, claiming that Araujo had made unwanted sexual advances toward a court reporter in a n elevator at the Domestic Violence Courthouse in Chicago on 2011.
The complaint also claimed that in 2016, Araujo made unwanted sexual advances toward, and attempted unwelcome physical contact with, a Chicago Police officer when she was in his chambers looking for a signature on a search warrant, and also made inappropriate and sexually suggestive comments toward an assistant Cook County State’s Attorney after she appeared in court before him in 2018.
The latter act got Judge Araujo reassigned.
The court reporter testified before the board that at one point in 2011 at the elevator at the Domestic Violence Courthouse, 555 W. Harrison St., Araujo became overly friendly and asked her, “How much?” as in how much for sex, the commission wrote in its order issued Thursday. She said she chose not to report the incident at the time because there were no witnesses, the commission wrote.
A few weeks later, the court reporter said she and Araujo were in the elevator again, and he asked her if she had thought about his earlier comment, the board said. The court reporter said she told Araujo she had a boyfriend to make it clear she was not interested – and also pointed out to Araujo that he himself was married – but she said Araujo shrugged is shoulders and said, “So what?” the board said. The court reporter said she did not report this incident either, because she was concerned about the lack of witnesses and what it might mean for her career, the board said.
But after that, the court reporter said she started avoiding the break room on the floor where Araujo’s courtroom was located, and later asked to be transferred to the Daley Center, the commission wrote.
In his own testimony before the board on the subject, Araujo denied knowing the court reporter and denied that the incidents happened, the commission wrote.
The Chicago Police officer testified before the commission that in August 2016, she texted Araujo to see if he could authorize a search warrant at the George N. Leighton Criminal Courthouse at 26th Street and California Avenue – as Araujo had a reputation for returning officers’ calls promptly, the commission wrote.
Araujo indeed was available, and the officer said she drove to the courthouse and went into Araujo’s chambers, the commission wrote. She said when she entered, Araujo came around his desk and tried to kiss her on the lips.
She said she extended her arm and stepped back and told Araujo, “Aren’t you married?” to which he replied, “Well, yeah,” the commission wrote. Afterward, as the officer was about to leave Araujo’s chambers to get an informant who was waiting outside, she said Araujo reached toward her hand and said, “Here, touch it.” She said when she asked, “Touch what?” he replied, “Touch my butt,” the board said. The officer said she pushed Araujo out of her way and left.
The officer said Araujo also made an inappropriate comment to her when she met him about a search warrant in her squad car outside the Shakespeare District police station.
The officer said she did have to talk with Araujo about warrants again after that, but made sure never to be alone with him again, the commission wrote. She said she decided to speak up about her allegations after the sexual assault trial of Bill Cosby, the commission wrote.
Araujo testified before the commission that he did know the officer, but that none of his actions were sexual and were only acts of friendly affection.
Other assistant state’s attorneys testified before the commission about the incident in which they said Araujo got upset when a female prosecutor who had been his law school classmate of did not acknowledge him when she entered his courtroom.
One of the prosecutors who testified said Araujo might have referred to the female prosecutor by an obscene name, and said of her not acknowledging him, something to the effect of “Maybe it’s because I slept with her in law school or maybe it’s because I didn’t,” the commission wrote.
The commission ruled that Araujo violated the Code of Judicial Conduct in multiple ways with the alleged actions, and wrote that his conduct was “prejudicial to the administration of justice and brought the judicial office into disrepute.”
But because Araujo retired after the commission announced its “findings of facts and conclusions of law,” the commission ruled that no further discipline can be considered.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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