Justice sorry for porn email, blasts colleague

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Posted: Oct 16, 2014 4:13 PM
Justice sorry for porn email, blasts colleague

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — A Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice caught up in a government pornographic email scandal apologized Thursday for a "lapse in judgment" but said he believes the court's chief justice is out to get him.

Justice Seamus McCaffery issued a statement that said he is sorry if he offended anyone, but he called criticism of his actions a "cooked-up controversy" that is part of "a vindictive pattern of attacks" against him by Chief Justice Ron Castille.

McCaffery's statement was issued the day after Castille disclosed that a review he conducted showed McCaffery sent or received 234 emails with sexually explicit material or pornography.

"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," McCaffery concluded. "It was wrong, and I am sorry."

McCaffery, 64, was elected to the high court as a Democrat seven years ago. He is a former Philadelphia police officer and also served as a judge on the city's municipal court and the state Superior Court. McCaffery presided over the so-called Eagles court that operated inside Veterans Stadium to handle arrests of fans.

He said that "coarse language and crude jokes" were part of his life as a police office and as a Marine.

"That's not an excuse, just a fact," McCaffery wrote.

Castille said Wednesday that McCaffery sent most of the emails to an agent in the attorney general's office. That agent, now retired, forwarded the emails to others, he said.

Castille, a Republican and former Philadelphia district attorney, must leave the court at the end of this year because he has reached the mandatory retirement age. Castille also served in the Marine Corps, losing a leg during a combat tour in Vietnam.

It's unclear what, if anything, will come of the email disclosure. The court system has said the Supreme Court is reviewing the matter.

Castille "is fixated on taking down a fellow justice with his misleading statements and incredible hypocrisy," McCaffery wrote.

He said Castille is acting against him because he criticized how Castille handled a juvenile justice scandal in Luzerne County as well as construction of a large family court building in Philadelphia.

Before an event in Philadelphia on Thursday to dedicate that new courthouse, Castille declined to respond to McCaffery's statements.

"I don't respond to name-calling," Castille told the AP.

Four former employees of the attorney general's office have left their government jobs in the weeks since Attorney General Kathleen Kane identified them and four others as having sent or received explicit and pornographic emails. Kane said current employees also sent or received the emails and could face discipline, but she has not named them.

The emails date from late 2008, when Gov. Tom Corbett was attorney general, until early 2012, about the time Kane took office as the first woman and first Democrat to be elected attorney general. Corbett has said he was unaware of the emails.

Corbett's environmental protection secretary, Chris Abruzzo, and a lawyer in the department, Glenn Parno, both resigned after they were named as email participants.

Rick Sheetz, who led the criminal division of the attorney general's office under Corbett, has resigned as a deputy prosecutor in Lancaster County, and Randy Feathers, who supervised investigators in the Jerry Sandusky molestation case, has announced he will soon retire from his appointed position on the state Board of Probation and Parole.

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AP writer Kathy Matheson in Philadelphia contributed to this story.