Judge Matthew Rosenbaum Accused of Rape, Oral Sex in Chambers
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Secretary Accuses Former Judge of Rape, Demanding Oral Sex as ‘Part of Her Job’ to ‘Assist Him in Relieving His Stress’

Former NYS Supreme Court Justice Matthew Rosenbaum

A self-described secretary to a now-former New York State Supreme Court justice has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the judge she names as her rapist and abuser.

Plaintiff Rebecca Klymn says she was employed by Justice Matthew Rosenbaum from March 2005 to December 2019. In court papers, the judge is said to have “compelled Plaintiff to perform fellatio upon him on approximately a monthly basis in 2005 . . . against her will.”

The judge told Klymn that “performing fellatio upon him was part of her job, that he was stressed, and she was required to assist him in relieving his stress,” the lawsuit alleges. Rosenbaum is also said to have “threatened Plaintiff that if she wanted to keep her job she would comply with his demands for oral sex.”

The sex acts are described as having occurred in the judge’s chambers at the Monroe County Courthouse in Rochester, N.Y.

Klymn also says Rosenbaum told her “that if she wanted to retain custody of her minor son, she would comply with his demands for oral sex.” Klymn “was engaged in divorce proceedings” in 2005, the paperwork notes.

The judge was further accused of having “compelled Plaintiff to perform fellatio upon him on at least thirty separate occasions” in 2006. He’s also accused of having “vaginally raped Plaintiff in her home after work hours” on or around the date November 14, 2006.

At least 20 additional oral sex acts are alleged to have occurred in 2007. Fifteen allegedly occurred in 2008. Five allegedly occurred in early 2009.

And there’s more.

“Defendant ROSENBAUM required Plaintiff to perform personal errands for himself and his family members during the workday,” the lawsuit alleges. The judge “also addressed Plaintiff using demeaning terms, commented inappropriately upon Plaintiff’s clothing, and touched and hugged Plaintiff in the presence of others.” This alleged conduct is said to have spanned several years, the lawsuit claims.

The named defendants include a litany of government entities and individuals connected with those entities. The New York State Unified Court System, the New York State Office of Court Administration (OCA), the Monroe County Supreme Court (as an employer), and the Office of the Managing Inspector General for Bias Matters (OIG) are all named as defendants. So are Cosmas Grant (of the OIG), Ronald Pawelczak (the district executive of the 7th Judicial District), Mary Aufleger (the assistant district executive), former Supreme Court Justice Ann Taddeo, Carolyn Grimaldi (a human resources officer with OCA), Marge Allen (head of human resources at the Monroe County Supreme Court), Amy Fields (an analyst in the human resources department at the Monroe County Supreme Court), and Rosenbaum.

Another court clerk allegedly told Klymn “that there was nothing Plaintiff could do because Defendant ROSENBAUM was a judge, and no one would listen to the Plaintiff.”

Taddeo, the other justice named as a defendant, is alleged to have told Klymn that “there wasn’t much she (Taddeo) could do, other than conduct sexual abuse training.” Taddeo “also told Plaintiff that, unfortunately, women had to endure sexual harassment from male judges because there was no way to have them reprimanded,” the lawsuit claims.

Allen, the head of human resources, is alleged to have told Klymn that the only possible recourse would be to fire the plaintiff for complaining about a judge.

Allen suggested that the plaintiff could file a complaint with the OIG. The plaintiff says she did so on November 21, 2007, and “never received any response.”

Klymn alleges that she made it clear to Rosenbaum that his advances were unwanted, and the lawsuit says a confrontation occurred in 2009:

On June 1, 2009, Plaintiff refused Defendant ROSENBAUM’s demand for oral sex and told him she would no longer respond to his demands for oral sex, nor acquiesce to his threats.

Thereafter, on a daily basis, in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2017, Defendant ROSENBAUM continued to touch Plaintiff, put his arm around Plaintiff, commented inappropriately upon Plaintiff’s clothing, and address her by demeaning and inappropriate names such as “sweetie” and “honey.”

Defendant ROSENBAUM’s comments and physical contact alleged in ¶ 69 were unwelcome to Plaintiff.

Defendant ROSENBAUM also continued to require Plaintiff to perform personal errands for him, including performing secretarial work for Defendant ROSENBAUM’S Temple during work hours.

Klymn alleges she continued to seek other positions and roles within the court system. Robert Barnish, a human resources staffer who is not named as a defendant, is alleged to have told her that “he believed no one within” the court system would hire Klymn “due to fear of” Rosenbaum.

An additional January 8, 2018 complaint to OIG also allegedly went unanswered.

Klymn says unwanted comments and touching continued through 2018 and into 2019. Rosenbaum told her “to take a leave of absence ‘to get her head on straight,'” the complaint says; Taddeo (the other judge), Pawelczak (the district executive), and Fields (the HR analyst) allegedly told Klymn “they could do nothing to help her.”

“[E]ach of them recommended that she take time off from work to use up her accrued time off” and “apply for other jobs,” the lawsuit says.

Rosenbaum is alleged to have become verbally abusive in August and September 2019. He is also accused of telling the rest of his staff not to speak with Klymn. An email complaint to Fields and Aufleger was cc’d to Rosenbaum, the lawsuit says:

Defendant ROSENBAUM’s hostility toward and mistreatment of Plaintiff increased after Defendant FIELDS sent the email alleged in ¶ 87.

Defendants FIELDS and AUFLEGER told Plaintiff they could not assist her.

In August of September of 2019, Defendant AUFLEGER met with Defendant ROSENBAUM’s staff and advised them that they needed to talk to Plaintiff about work.

After Defendant AUFLEGER spoke to Defendant ROSENBAUM’s staff, the staff refused to work with Plaintiff.

Plaintiff requested a leave of absence.

On September 9, 2019, Defendant ROSENBAUM advised Plaintiff he would not approve her request for leave.

Eventually, Klymn sought to use the Family Medical Leave Act to request time off from work “due to physical symptoms arising from stress due to a hostile work environment.”

A October 29, 2019 Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint appears in court papers to have resulted in a phone call to Klymn from the Unified Court System and a request for a written description of what occurred. After a description of several layers of bureaucratic red tape, the lawsuit says a judicial conduct investigation took old; Rosenbaum agreed to resign — ending “any further investigation.”

Grant, of the OIG, is alleged to have told Klymn that the OIG “lost” her previous complaints. He is also alleged to have “suggested to Plaintiff that she had ‘asked for’ the treatment she received because of how she dressed.”

“Between 2005 and 2019, Defendants ignored the sexual discrimination against Plaintiff, discouraged her from complaining about the illegal treatment she endured, and ignored the complaints Plaintiff did submit,” the lawsuit says in conclusory form. “In 2019, Defendants enabled Defendant ROSENBAUM to retire from his position, and to avoid any further investigation or disciplinary action against him.”

The lawsuit alleges a litany of legal claims, including discrimination based on sex in violation of Title VII, equal protection claims under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and various violations of New York State’s human rights law.

The case is on file in U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.

Neither Rosenbaum nor his attorneys responded when sought out by reporters from the Rochester, N.Y. Democrat and Chronicle and from several Rochester television stations. However, a representative for Rosenbaum told the D&C on Tuesday that the former judge had not yet seen the legal documents and that “it would not be proper to make any comments on what appear to be employment issues.”  The Unified Court System told Bloomberg Law that it had not been served with the lawsuit and therefore wished not to comment.

The New York State Supreme Court system is akin to the superior court system in most other states.  New York State Supreme Court judges can hear any matter happening within the county or counties which comprise their district. New York State’s two-tiered appeals courts are known as the Appellate Division and as the New York State Court of Appeals — the latter being the highest court in the state.

Read the lawsuit below:

Editor’s note: Some news organizations have chosen not to name the plaintiff given the nature of the case. Law&Crime has joined several other news organizations in naming the plaintiff because she filed her case through experienced attorneys without any request for redaction or privacy.

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Aaron Keller holds a juris doctor degree from the University of New Hampshire School of Law and a broadcast journalism degree from Syracuse University.  He is a former anchor and executive producer for the Law&Crime Network and is now a Senior Editor for the Law&Crime website. DISCLAIMER:  This website is for general informational purposes only.  You should not rely on it for legal advice.  Reading this site or interacting with the author via this site does not create an attorney-client relationship.  This website is not a substitute for the advice of an attorney.  Speak to a competent lawyer in your jurisdiction for legal advice and representation relevant to your situation.