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Woman suing former judge for unwanted sexual advances

Mike Heine/The Week

(Published Aug. 15, 2007, 3:38 p.m.)

A Palmyra woman is suing former Whitewater municipal judge Steven Spear, saying she suffered severe emotional distress when Spear masturbated in front of her and tried to kiss her.

Eileen M. Houk is seeking an unspecified amount for medical, psychiatric and psychological expenses; lost wages, court and attorney fees and punitive damages.

"The criminal justice system did not fully account for his actions, which is not unusual," said Paul Bucher, Houk's attorney.

In February 2006, Spear, 38, tried to kiss Houk inside his Whitewater-based law office, according to the lawsuit.

She ran out, but he called her back into his office. She thought he was going to apologize but instead noticed Spear masturbating under his desk, according to the complaint.

Spear's inappropriate behavior started on her first day at work, according to the lawsuit.

The first time Houk met Spear in 2001, he told her his secretary at his old office offered him sexual favors, according to the lawsuit.

He also made comments about sex to Houk in the first week of February 2006, the lawsuit reads.

"There was a series of conduct that led to this. It wasn't just out of the blue," Bucher said.

The Janesville Gazette was not able to reach Spear for a comment. His attorney, Eugene Gasiorkiewicz, declined comment.

Houk's experiences with Spear has caused her to suffer "severe emotional distress," "disgust and humiliation," "mental anguish" and the need to seek counseling from a psychologist, according to the lawsuit filed Aug. 6.

She also has had trouble sleeping, unexplained emotional outbursts and difficulty dealing with her husband and children, according to the complaint.

On July 18, Spear pleaded no contest to a non-criminal disorderly conduct forfeiture and he later paid a $438 fine. In exchange for reducing the charge from a misdemeanor, Spear agreed to resign as Whitewater's municipal judge.

He reapplied for the position, but was not selected by the Whitewater City Council.

Spear has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit.

 

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