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Pa. Sen. Williams calls for resignations of top court judge, others over 'porngate' email

Written by Katie Colaneri/WHYY | Nov 17, 2015 5:32 AM
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State Senator Anthony Williams calls for the resignation of state Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin after reviewing with community leaders the racist, misogynist and pornographic emails he and others passed around on state-owned computers. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

(Philadelphia) -- Democratic state Senator Anthony Williams is calling on Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Michael Eakin and other officials to resign for their roles in the "porngate" email scandal.

Williams met Monday morning with a group of community and religious leaders, including Philadelphia NAACP head Rodney Muhammed, where he showed them 10 of the emails traded among prosecutors, public defenders, judges and other members of the state judicial system.

Among them was a video of a black woman who regrets voting for President Obama.

"New jobs," she says. "Well, you mean I'm not going to get my government check? Is it too late to vote for the white guy?"

Another email features an audio clip called "Ned calls the gay and lesbian channel."

"I mean, we all know gay men are very promiscuous," the man tells a customer service representative.

Eakin was a recipient of all but one of the 10 emails Williams, D-Philadelphia, shared.

The email sent by the judge contains an off-color joke about a doctor who advises an abused woman to swish tea in her mouth. So long as her mouth is full, she won't be beaten, or so the punchline goes. 

Following the private meeting with group leaders, Williams called a press conference to condemn the emails as "riddled with hate speech."

"What has been described as 'porngate' should be described as 'hategate,'" he said.

The Philadelphia Daily News first reported on these emails sent and received using Eakin's private "John Smith" email account in early October.

"Frankly, I think the public did not realize what they were seeing or what they were hearing when people described them, so I took the opportunity to make sure that these folks who are leaders see them," said Williams.

Williams wants Eakin to resign from the high court, as well as what he called "branches of the tree" -- that includes two state officials who declined to discipline Eakin after reviewing the emails and a member of the Judicial Conduct Board who was part of that review, but was recently revealed to be a recipient.

It also includes three former state prosecutors who now work for Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams -- the same prosecutors Philadelphia's female city councilwomen asked to be fired last week.

"I think he should have fired them a long time ago and many of us have said as much," said Sen. William. "I want to be very clear, I am friendly with Seth Williams, he's a friend of mine, so I'm not going to criticize my friend."

Williams also wants state Attorney General Kathleen Kane to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate, despite the fact Kane is facing criminal charges and has had her law license suspended.

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