West Virginia judge who admitted to inappropriate sexual affair appeals board's discipline

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MORGANTOWN, West Virginia — A West Virginia appeals court will hear arguments Tuesday over disciplinary action against a judge who had an inappropriate sexual affair that included trysts in her judicial office.

A Judicial Hearing Board recommended in August that Randolph County Circuit Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong should be censured, suspended for three years without pay, fined $20,000 and ordered to pay court costs. A special disciplinary counsel went a step further, recommending on October 3 that Wilfong should be indefinitely suspended from office "not to punish the judge for (her) extensive wrongdoing, but to relieve from the bench a person whose further service will be detrimental to the judicial branch of government."

The West Virginia Supreme Court will hear Wilfong's appeal on the punishments.

In April, responding to a formal statement of charges in the 20th Judicial Circuit, Wilfong admitted to a two-year affair with William Travis Carter. The affair included sexually explicit emails, text messages, instant messages and nude photographs. At the time of their liaison, Carter was director of the North Central Community Corrections program in Elkins.

"I admit that I was involved in an inappropriate relationship with William Travis Carter," she wrote, continuing: "It was inappropriate because we engaged in an emotional and sometimes physical relationship outside out marriages."

Wilfong's "multiple transgressions have undermined public confidence in the judiciary in Randolph County," the hearing board wrote in the August order.

Through her lawyer, Wilfong appealed the Judicial Hearing Board's recommendations in September. On October 14, Wilfong's lawyer filed a brief asking for mercy. It argued that disciplinary action should be limited to a public reprimand.

"Most of all, Judge Wilfong asks that you grant her mercy," the brief states. "She is not deserving of the death sentence that Special Counsel wants to be imposed. Reject the notion that Judge Wilfong cannot be trusted to continue to do what the people of Randolph County elected her to do; if those people no longer trust her, let them remove her from office."

In May, West Virginia Supreme Court Chief Justice Robin Davis removed Wilfong from hearing cases involving the county prosecutor's office.

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