A Cook County judge has been reassigned after he was accused of calling a female prosecutor a “b–ch” and suggesting that he may have had sex with her.
Judge Mauricio Araujo, a criminal court judge, allegedly made the comments on Sept. 11 when the female assistant state’s attorney appeared in his courtroom.
The complaints were detailed by Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in a Sept. 18 letter to Chief Criminal Courts Judge LeRoy K. Martin.
Two days later, Martin ordered Araujo removed from his judicial duties and reassigned to administrative work, according to court records obtained by the Chicago Sun-Times.
No reason for Araujo’s reassignment was given in the court order, and Martin wasn’t available for comment.
Araujo could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
A spokesman for Chief Judge Timothy Evans said the reassignment came at the direction of the chief judge and was the “strongest action” Evans could take. Any further discipline, the spokesman said, had to come from the Judicial Inquiry Board, an agency that investigates allegations of misconduct by Illinois judges.
The chief judge also ordered all Cook County judges and employees to undergo sexual-harassment training in October.
Attached to Foxx’s letter to Martin was a memo that had been sent to Foxx from Steven Block, a bureau chief in the state’s attorney’s office. The memo informed Foxx of the allegations made against Araujo in interviews with the female prosecutor and other assistant state’s attorneys who heard Araujo’s alleged comments.
The Sun-Times obtained a redacted copy of the memo through a public records request.
According to the memo, the female prosecutor and Araujo were law school classmates more than two decades ago. In law school, Araujo made “unwanted sexual advances” that the prosecutor rejected, the memo says.
“To this day, [the female prosecutor] recalls in detail one of the incidents because of the particularly crude nature of Araujo’s conduct,” Block wrote.
Since that time, the female prosecutor had seen Araujo around the courthouse, but they had not spoken, the memo said.
On the Sept. 11 incident, the female prosecutor was in Araujo’s courtroom for a hearing in a murder case that had been reassigned to Araujo when another judge retired.
Araujo was overheard speaking to his clerk in Spanish and appeared upset and agitated, the memo said. A person interviewed by Brock reported that the judge commented: “She walked in and didn’t give me any congrats or acknowledge me. She acted like she didn’t know who I was.”
Araujo then walked off the bench and into his chambers.
Another assistant state’s attorney in the courtroom was later called into Araujo’s chambers that day with a Chicago police officer to discuss a case. As the judge signed an order for that assistant state’s attorney, he appeared upset and said, “You think you went to f—ing law school with someone, you would think she would say ‘hi’ to you,” according to the memo. Araujo then allegedly called the female prosecutor a “b–ch.”
According to the memo, that assistant state’s attorney did not initially know the judge was referring to a fellow prosecutor and replied, “Maybe she didn’t recognize you in your robe.”
Araujo allegedly responded, “Our law school class had only about 50 people and she can’t say ‘hi’ to me,” and “Well, maybe it’s because I didn’t have sex with her or maybe it’s because I did have sex with her.”
The assistant state’s attorney who heard the comments was “uncomfortable with this interaction and Araujo’s behavior,” and later informed the female prosecutor of the interaction with the judge, the memo says.
On Sept. 13, the state’s attorney’s office filed a motion to substitute Araujo as the judge in the female prosecutor’s case, according to Foxx’s letter.
In her letter to Martin, Foxx wrote that she sought to substitute Araujo and that she had “concerns regarding the alleged conduct [of Araujo], as well as the protocol for addressing such conduct involving matters of the judiciary.”
“As workplaces across the country contend with issues of sexual harassment and misconduct, it is critical to have clear protocols for reporting, investigating, and accountability for such allegations,” Foxx wrote.