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Former North Carolina judge censured for sexual misconduct

A now-retired state judge was censured  Friday by the North Carolina Supreme Court for sexual misconduct, including attempts to meet women online and in person while at court.

The court agreed with the Judicial Standards Commission that former District Court Judge C. Randy Pool violated several sections of the judicial conduct code and should receive the censure. Poole, who held court in McDowell and Rutherford counties, became a judge in 1999 and served more than a dozen years as a chief District Court judge until his retirement in December 2019.

The commission and the ex-judge agreed that Pool, who is married, knowingly engaged in conversations with at least 35 women on Facebook that ranged from inappropriate to sexually explicit during a 7-month period that ended in May 2019, Friday’s ruling said. His public Facebook page identified him as a judge.

Facebook records showed this online activity corresponded to time when he was reported to be in court, according to the ruling. He sought meetings with women during recesses and breaks, the commission wrote, which interfered with him discharging his judicial duties.

Pool’s electronic communications and exchange of nude photographs resulted in a woman’s extortion attempt, leading to an investigation, the Supreme Court wrote.

Pool’s conduct “involved moral turpitude and dishonesty with the (State Bureau of Investigation) and the commission during their investigations in an effort to prevent the discovery of the full extent of his sexual misconduct,” the commission wrote, according to the court document.

While Pool was diagnosed last fall with the early stages of a form of dementia that can manifest itself in sexual impulses, the commission concluded that Pool’s conduct late in his judicial career “was willful and renders him unfit to serve as a judge.”

A censure is appropriate because he is no longer a sitting judge and has no plans to serve as an emergency judge, the court wrote, adding that he showed remorse and had an otherwise distinguished career on the bench.

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