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Court panel recommends removal of R.I. judge

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A Rhode Island court panel is recommending the dismissal of a state district court judge over complaints of sexual harassment and judicial misconduct.

The state Supreme Court Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline found in its report released Wednesday that Judge Rafael A. Ovalles committed 41 violations of the Rhode Island Code of Judicial Conduct.

Witnesses testified at a hearing that Ovalles degraded women and mistreated court staff, lawyers and the public. Ovalles has denied the allegations.

Ovalles became the state’s first Hispanic judge when he was named to the bench in 2005.

He has been relieved from all judicial duties with pay since December 2015.

A lawyer for Ovalles says they “strongly disagree with the commission’s process” and “will pursue all legal remedies available” to Ovalles.

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