The commission cited Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong for violating four canons of the code of conduct including upholding the integrity and independence of the judiciary, avoiding impropriety and the appearance of impropriety, perform duties of the judicial office impartially and diligently, and conducting extra-judicial activities as to minimize the risk of conflict with judicial obligations.
The Judicial Hearing Board said it received five complaints regarding Wilfong's affair with former community corrections director William Travis Carter, including a self-report complaint from Wilfong herself. Wilfong contacted the Judicial Investigation Commission on Oct. 14, 2013 about a romantic and sexual relationship between her and Carter, which spanned the previous two years. Carter resigned as the Community Corrections Director in Dec. 2013. Other people who filed complaints about Wilfong's conduct include Wilfong's office staff and attorneys who work within the county.
"My relationship with William Travis Carter did not affect my work as a judge. I did my job and I continue to do my job. The Statement of Charges does not allege that my work on the bench was compromised by the relationship; it alleges that the appearance of the judicial system and its integrity were harmed and I admit that," said Wilfong in a formal response to the charges.
The commission's formal statement of charges lists 35 counts of allegations including that Wilfong sent sexually explicit emails, text messages and nude photos of herself to Carter on his county issued phone and computer, along with an allegation that Wilfong disclosed the nature of her relationship with several other people within the Randolph County court system. There also is evidence indicating Wilfong performed sexual acts with Carter in her judicial chambers between court proceedings. In Wilfong's response, she reluctantly admits to the sexual encounters in her office on three or less occasions and admits to send sexually explicit emails and texts to Carter. In count 16 of the commission's findings, it's alleged that court personnel, attorneys and members of the gallery in the court room witnessed Wilfong crying or otherwise emotionally distraught while presiding over court proceedings. Wilfong admits to crying and being emotionally distraught in the courtroom, but denies that it was always related to her affair with Carter, and cites other emotional events happening in her life at the time.
"I admit that I made a personal mistake that has negatively impacted many. I take responsibility for it," Wilfong said. "I apologize to the people of Randolph County and to the other judges and justices in West Virginia upon whom my immoral affair was a bad reflection. Please be assured that my improper extra judicial conduct did not ever adversely affect any decision, any litigant, or any hearing over which I presided."
Wilfong said the sexual activities stopped in September and the relationship ended the following month. She said she ahs not had any contact with Carter since and is working to repair the damage to her marriage.
"The relationship was hardly surreptitious, as alleged, as members of the bar and the court staff now contend they and others were fully aware of the relationship despite the fact that they raised no objection with anyone prior to the filing of these complaints against me, after the relationship was over," she said.
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