IL Judicial Inquiry Board: Cook County judge made unwanted sexual advances, comments toward three women in court

By Scott Holland | Jun 6, 2019

CHICAGO — The Illinois Judiciary Inquiry Board has accused a Cook County judge of sexually harassing at least three women.

In a June 5 filing with the Illinois Courts Commission, the board accused Cook County Circuit Court Judge Mauricio Araujo of “a pattern of inappropriate and harassing behavior toward women with whom he has interacted in professional settings and in his official judicial capacity.”

The complaint alleged two separate incidents in the spring and summer of 2012 in which Araujo “made unwanted sexual advances toward a court reporter” while they were alone in an elevator at the Domestic Violence Courthouse in Chicago — including inquiring about how much money it would take for her to have sex with him — and said on Aug. 15, 2016, he made unwelcome comments and attempted unwanted contact with a Chicago police officer while in his chambers at the George N. Leighton Criminal Court Building to get a signature on a search warrant.

Another incident was alleged to have taken place Sept. 11, 2018. The board accused Araujo of making inappropriate, suggestive comments about one assistant state’s attorney in the presence of another.  The board said Araujo’s conduct “was prejudicial to the administration of justice and brought the judicial office into disrepute.”

Araujo won election to the Sixth Judicial Subcircuit in 2008 and won a retention election in November 2014. He has been on administrative leave since September following the alleged remarks about the assistant state’s attorney. According to the complaint, the lawyer and Araujo were law school classmates from 1990-1993, during which time she rebuffed one of his sexual advances. After their encounter in court, according to the complaint, Araujo was in his chambers with one of the lawyer’s male colleagues when he called her a disparaging name and discussed whether or not they’d had sex in law school.

The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office sent a memo about the incident to the presiding judge the next week, generating media attention, and Araujo was assigned to administrative duties. The complaint said news of that situation prompted the court reporter from the 2012 incident to come forward with her story, about which she had previously kept silent “because of concerns about negative ramifications on her career,” opting instead to avoid the elevator and seek a transfer to the Daley Center.

The police officer from the 2016 incident also came forward after the September situation became public knowledge. She was a 15-year veteran at the time, and alleged Araujo approached her quickly as she entered his chamber and tried to kiss her on the mouth. She said Araujo later invited her to “touch my butt” and that she had to gently shove him into a courtroom so she could get her warrant signed without further advances.

Also like the court reporter, the police officer reported being traumatized by her alleged encounter and said she changed her professional behavior to avoid future solitary encounters with Araujo, the complaint said.

The complaint includes two counts of inappropriate sexual advances, one for the court reporter and one for the police officer, and one of inappropriate and sexual comments regarding the assistant state’s attorney. The board accused Araujo of violating the Code of Judicial Conduct and asked the Illinois Courts Commission to issue an order condemning the alleged conduct in accordance with the Illinois constitution.

Prosecuting the complaint for the board are attorneys Kevin Fee and Martha Clarke, of Sidley Austin LLP, of Chicago.

Araujo has 21 days to file responsive pleadings.

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Circuit Court of Cook County Illinois Judicial Inquiry Board

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