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Monroe County judge who resigned abruptly now accused of sexual abuse

Former state Supreme Court Justice Matthew Rosenbaum in his black judge's robe and tie in front of the American flag and law books
File Photo
Former Monroe County State Supreme Court Justice Matthew Rosenbaum has been accused of subjecting his secretary to years of forced sex acts and other forms of harassment.

A Monroe County state Supreme Court justice who abruptly resigned his seat on the bench last year after allegations surfaced that he had made “improper” and “abusive personal demands” of his staff is now accused of subjecting his secretary to years of forced sex acts and other forms of harassment.

The new allegations against the former justice, Matthew Rosenbaum, were leveled in a civil suit brought in federal court last week by his once secretary, Rebecca Klymn, who charged that Rosenbaum demanded that she perform oral sex on him in his chambers.

Her lawsuit claims Klymn was compelled to meet his demands over a period of four years — from March 2005, when she was hired, to June 2009 — under threats from Rosenbaum that she would lose her job and custody of her son while she was going through divorce proceedings.

The lawsuit also alleges that in November 2006, Rosenbaum raped Klymn in her home.After Klymn refused to continue complying with Rosenbaum’s alleged demands for oral sex in June 2009, her lawsuit claims, he took to touching her inappropriately over her clothing in their workplace, referring to her by demeaning names such as “sweetie” and “honey,” and requesting that she run personal errands for him and his family.

That alleged abuse forced Klymn to take medical leave early last year and she has not been back to work since, according to the lawsuit, which was filed Friday in federal district court in Buffalo.

The state Office of Court Administration, which oversees the judiciary in New York, announced in December 2019 that Rosenbaum had been relieved of his duties pending an ongoing investigation into allegations regarding his conduct, although the announcement at the time did not describe what the allegations entailed.

Rosenbaum, 57, subsequently signed an agreement in January 2020 with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which is the body responsible for disciplining judges in New York, to vacate his office, to which he had been elected to a 14-year term two months earlier.

The agreement contained a provision that he would never seek judicial office again.The agreement effectively ended the commission’s investigation into Rosenbaum, although the Office of Court Administration was reportedly continuing its own probe of him.

“The commission’s mandate is to hold judges accountable for ethical misconduct and ensure in egregious cases that they leave the bench and never return,” Robert Tembeckjian, the administrator for the Commission on Judicial Conduct, said in a statement Tuesday. “That is what happened with Judge Rosenbaum. He decided to resign and we made it permanent. Statutorily, our authority ended at that point, but other agencies may investigate further and take additional action as warranted.”

Any criminal findings unearthed by investigators could have been forwarded to the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office for consideration, although a spokesperson for District Attorney Sandra Doorley said Tuesday that the state never sent anything for her review. CITY placed an inquiry Tuesday with the Office of Court Administration regarding the status of any investigation, but has yet to hear back.

In her lawsuit, Klymn, 50, claims that over the years she took her complaints to several state court officials, many of whom are also named as defendants, but was repeatedly told nothing could be done.

Klymn alleges she sent three complaints to the Office of the Inspector General for the court system, and that it was only in late 2019 that the state acted when the office forwarded a complaint of hers to the state Commission on Judicial Conduct. Upon Klymn being interviewed by a worker for the Office of the Inspector General, according to the lawsuit, she was told that the office had “lost” her previous complaints and that the worker suggested she had “asked for” the alleged abuse because of the way she dressed.

Rosenbaum being stripped of his judicial duties sent shockwaves through the area’s legal community. The son of a late state Supreme Court justice, Rosenbaum followed in his father’s footsteps when he was appointed to the bench in 2005 and was elected to a full term later that year, covering a judicial district that encompassed Monroe and seven neighboring counties. In 2018, Rosenbaum was named Jurist of the Year by the regional New York State Supreme Court Judges Association.

David Andreatta