Pa. justice apologizes, strikes back on porn emails

    Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery has apologized for sending scores of pornographic emails to state officials, and in the same message accused the chief justice of the court of being out to get him.

    The emails turned up on computers in the state attorney general’s office in a review of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse probe.

    In a statement yesterday, Supreme Court Chief Justice Ron Castille spelled out the extent of  McCaffery’s involvement: He sent 234 emails with hundreds of sexually explicit images and more than 40 videos.

    In a statement Thursday, McCaffery apologized for what he called a “lapse in judgment” involving private emails between him and some longtime friends. He noted that, during his time as a cop and a Marine, “coarse language and crude jokes” were common, something he said was “not an excuse, just a fact.”

    But McCaffery called the email flap a “cooked-up controversy,” part of a “vindictive pattern of attacks” against him by Castille. He accused Castille of trying to undermine his relationships with other justices, and contacting the FBI about referral fees McCaffery’s wife earned from law firms while working on McCaffery’s staff.

    No charges or sanctions have resulted from any review of those fees.

    Castille faces mandatory retirement from the court at the end of this year.

    McCaffery issued his statement just hours before Castille was to appear in public at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Philadelphia’s new Family Court building.

    Words of the combatants

    Here’s Castille’s statement on McCaffery’s emails, issued Wednesday:

    Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts

    News for Immediate ReleaseOct. 15, 2014

    Chief Justice: Email review exonerates six Supreme Court justices

    HARRISBURG — On Friday, Oct. 10, 2014, Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille met with a forensic technician from Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office in response to the chief justice’s request that the office produce all emails involving sexually explicit materials sent by or to a member of the judiciary. The agent reported that the Office of the Attorney General searched its archive of emails for the period from late 2008 to May 2012 for all emails involving any justice of the Supreme Court and identified 4,000 such emails. Two-thousand eight hundred of the emails were identified as involving Justice Seamus McCaffery.

    An examination by the agent of the 2,800 emails involving Justice McCaffery identified 234 emails that contained sexually explicit or pornographic photographs or videos, all of which had been sent by or to Justice McCaffery. No other Supreme Court justice was identified as having sent or received any sexually explicit emails.

    The attorney general’s agent advised the chief justice that the 234 emails contained 1,502 sexually explicit images and 60 sexually explicit video files, some of which were duplicates. He estimated the number of unique images at 700 to 800 and the number of unique videos at approximately 45. The agent provided the chief justice with heavily redacted copies of the emails without the attachments and displayed many of the images and videos on a laptop computer.

    The large majority of emails were sent by Justice McCaffery to an agent of the Office of Attorney General who has since retired. The agent then forwarded the materials to numerous individuals, most of whose names were redacted in the copies provided to the chief justice.

    This matter is under further review by the Supreme Court.

    Here’s McCaffery’s statement, issued Thursday:

    “I served my country proudly in the United States Marine Corps. I served my city proudly as an Officer of the Philadelphia Police Department. Coarse language and crude jokes permeated both ranks. That’s not an excuse, just a fact. Unfortunately, personal, private emails between me and some longtime friends were never meant to be viewed by anyone else, but they were. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment. I erred and if I offended anyone, I am truly sorry. I spent 20 years in the Philadelphia Police Department without incident. I served 10 years as a trial judge and four years on the Superior Court without incident. And I spent 40 years serving our nation, first as a United States Marine and then as a United States Air Force Reservist, retiring as a full colonel — 40 years without a blemish. Yet, since being elected to the Supreme Court in 2007, I have had to cope with one incident after another. Why?

    “This latest cooked-up controversy over my personal emails is part of a vindictive pattern of attacks by the soon-to-be-retired Chief Justice, Ronald Castille. He is fixated on taking down a fellow justice with his misleading statements and incredible hypocrisy. Isn’t it time for the press to ask the real question? Why is the Chief Justice fixated on hurling one accusation after another at me, in an ongoing attempt to discredit me? We all know what is motivating this unwarranted and unprecedented attack. For those of us who remember the ‘Real Castille’, it is shocking to think that someone who has ‘led’ the Supreme Court during one of its most scandal-ridden periods since its inception in 1722 now wants to single out one justice and condemn him for a personal lapse in judgment. To date, I have stayed above the fray, not wanting to drag the Supreme Court through the mud like he’s been doing. But I can no longer sit by and allow these attacks to continue without comment.

    “Ron Castille’s statement yesterday, issued on AOPC letterhead and purporting to represent the position of the entire Supreme Court, was a lie. In fact, members of the Supreme Court did not even know about the statement until they read the publication. And it is only the latest lie in the Chief Justice’s egomaniacal mission to ‘get me.’ His mission began when he reported me to the Federal Bureau of Investigation over my wife’s legitimate receipt of referral fees, and that didn’t work. He has done everything possible within our Court to undermine me with my colleagues, and that didn’t work. Now, with only two months left in the hourglass of his tenure on our Court, he is trying to finish what he has been trying to do for so many years. He has been on this mission because I had the guts to challenge him on the Family Court fiasco and on what the citizens of Pennsylvania got for the more than $3 million of First Judicial District funds that were funneled to one of his closest friends. And I had the guts to challenge him on his disastrous handling of Pennsylvania’s worst judicial scandal and a tragic injustice that will forever be known as the ‘Kids for Cash’ disaster.

    “I am very proud of my record of public service to my city, my commonwealth, and our nation. Nevertheless, I want to reiterate my apology for my lapse in judgment with respect to the offensive emails, personal emails that were made public by the outgoing Chief Justice. It was wrong, and I am sorry.”

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