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Former judge reprimanded for sexual tryst with defendant

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — A former Kentucky judge was reprimanded Friday for having sex with a woman while he was presiding over her felony criminal case.

Ronnie C. Dortch, who retired last month, had a relationship with the woman from 2014 to 2015 and discussed the case with her outside of court, the Kentucky Judicial Conduct Commission said in its order reprimanding the judge.

“The conduct of the judge shocks the conscience of the Commission,” the order said. “Because Judge Dortch has retired, a public reprimand is the most severe sanction the Commission can impose.”

The order does not identify the woman, what she was charged with or the outcome of her case. A commission spokesman declined to give more details. A call to a listed number for Dortch was not immediately returned.

Dortch was appointed to the 38th judicial circuit in 1992 and won three elections, most recently in 2014. He presided over cases from four counties.

Dortch cited health reasons when he retired. He told the Bowling Green Daily News it was time to “have the younger people take over.”

“The only problem is you get a little tiresome of seeing the same people with the same problems coming up over and over,” he told the newspaper at the time.

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