JACKSON, Ky. (WYMT) - A state judicial oversight panel publicly reprimanded an Eastern Kentucky judge over comments he made during the sentencing of a teacher convicted of sexually abusing five teenage girls that were his students.
The Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission ruled Monday Judge Frank Fletcher's comments showed bias in favor of the male defendant.
The case in question is that of Charles Andrew Mitchell.
Mitchell pleaded guilty to 15 sex-related charges, including sending explicit photos to a student and having intercourse with a minor while he was a teacher at Sebastian Middle School.
During the sentencing, Fletcher said Mitchell was "not blind" and "only human" and that some of of the girls did not look their age.
The commission ruled Fletcher's comments showed prejudice in the case.
"I don't think students should come into school and be wearing low-cut blouses, and if it had happened and I don't know if it did ... and short skirts," Fletcher said during the sentencing hearing. "Well he has pled guilty," a prosecutor objected. "I know that, I know that," Fletcher replied.
The defense attorney in the case says Fletcher was reprimanded unfairly, and adds the judge was simply carefully considering all the facts in the case.
"In doing so he thought out loud and spoke for about 50 minutes and made some comments that the Judicial Conduct Commission in my opinion took out of context," said attorney Ned Pillersdorf.
"This court is not condoning the actions of Mr. Mitchell," Fletcher said during the hearing, "so please, when everybody leaves, this court is not condoning that."
The commission's order said that Fletcher's comments were offensive to the victims and their families, and said neither the victims' dress nor appearance was a defense for the sexual offenses of their adult teacher.
Judge Fletcher sentenced the teacher, Charles Mitchell, to seven years behind bars and later granted shock probation.
Officials tell us Mitchell is no longer in jail.