On Wednesday, June 5, 2024, CBS News reported that former Colorado judge John Scipione is standing by claims that a multi-year investigation into his conduct was an overreach, despite agreeing to resign from his position and pay penalties.

Scipione served as a magistrate in Arapahoe County from 2012 to 2017 and later as a judge starting in 2018. However, he resigned in January 2023 after accepting a public censure for inappropriate behavior with subordinates.

According to state disciplinary documents, Scipione discussed his “sexual preferences and habits” with a lower-ranking employee at work. In his interview with CBS News, Scipione acknowledged this conversation was inappropriate but maintained it did not warrant the extent of the investigation into his behavior.

Scipione described to CBS News that he had not initiated the conversation but responded to an inquiry from the subordinate, which led to a discussion about his 25-year marriage. He stated that he and his wife have a “polyamorous” relationship, where they consent to intimate relationships outside of their marriage.

While Scipione conceded discussing his lifestyle was wrong, he asserted the investigation into his pattern of conduct over multiple years was disproportionate. Scipione reported spending over $150,000 on legal fees to defend himself and believed authorities were overly harsh due to the sexual nature of the claims rather than the seriousness of the behavior itself.

A review by the state found Scipione had repeatedly used his position to seek intimate relationships with lower-ranking court employees. It was also discovered he failed to disclose an intimate relationship with a subordinate approximately 10 years ago during his time as a magistrate.

As a result of two sexual harassment claims, the state settled for a total of $130,000. However, Scipione maintained the investigation and penalties from the Colorado Supreme Court, including demands he repay $51,189 in attorney fees, have been career and financially devastating.

Specifically, Scipione criticized a recent Supreme Court decision upholding he has to pay the attorney fees over his lifetime, calling this an “unconscionable sanction.” Despite expressing regret for his actions, he argued others accused of more serious infractions faced less disciplinary action.

In response to Scipione’s comments, Jeffrey Walsh from the Colorado Office of Judicial Discipline declined to discuss the specific case. Walsh reiterated the office’s policy of not commenting on individual judicial disciplinary matters.

 

 

Source: CBS News