Embattled judge loses bid for public hearing


WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) – Eyewitness News has learned a court hearing on ethics violations against a district court judge is scheduled for January.

The allegations against District Court Judge Rafael Ovalles include repeated instances of sexual harassment, discrimination against women, abusive treatment, and failure to understand basic legal concepts.

An initial investigation by the Rhode Island Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline found “substantial evidence” to support the charges against Judge Ovalles.

A hearing in Kent County Court Saturday morning was kept closed to the public, despite Ovalles’ insistence the hearing be open.

Eyewitness News has learned that the transcripts from Saturday’s confidential proceedings will be released by January 23rd, the date of the next hearing. That hearing is expected to be open to the public.

“We are very disappointed that the public wasn’t allowed to be in there today,” Ovalles attorney, Mark Berthiaume, told Eyewitness News following Saturday’s hearing. “We look forward though to the day in January when the public hearing will begin and all of the evidence will be able to be made available to the public.

We’re confident that Judge Ovalles did absolutely nothing wrong here and the public will be able to hear it at that time.”Jared Pliner also contributed to this story.

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