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State

Disgraced judge denies allegations of sexual abuse

A head shot of former state Supreme Court Justice Matthew Rosenbaum, wearing a gray suit and blue shirt in front of a blue background
Former state Supreme Court Justice Matthew Rosenbaum issued a statement Wednesday addressing allegations that he sexually abused a former secretary.

In his first public remarks since abruptly resigning from the bench two years ago amid allegations of "improper conduct," former state Supreme Court Justice Matthew Rosenbaum issued a video statement Wednesday in which he acknowledged having had sexual relations with his secretary and denied that they were anything but consensual.

"More than a decade ago, I wrongly got involved with a woman outside of my marriage," he said. "It was not only wrong, it was a stupid thing to do. It was unfair to my wife, my children and to those who believed in me."

"But there is another issue I must confront," he added later in the statement. "That is the untrue allegation that the relationship was anything but consensual. It was always consensual. And any attempt to frame it as anything other than that is both untrue and unfair."

The mea culpa came a day after the Monroe County Sheriff's Office issued a statement that confirmed it was investigating Rosenbaum for possible criminal conduct, but did not divulge specifics.

Two weeks earlier, Rosenbaum's former secretary filed a civil lawsuit against him in federal court that alleged he sexually abused her for years in his chambers and raped her in her home.The lawsuit also named people within the state court system whom the secretary claimed ignored her pleas for help.

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, which he had held since 2005. At the time of his resignation, he had been elected to a second 14-year term only two months earlier.

The agreement contained a provision that he would never seek judicial office again. In announcing Rosenbaum's permanent departure from the bench, commission officials alluded to Rosenbaum having made “improper” and “abusive personal demands” of his staff.