A Duryea woman who was indecently assaulted by a federal administrative law judge with the Social Security Administration has filed a $3 million complaint against two federal agencies she claims failed to protect her from the abuse.
Attorney Larry Moran filed a complaint Wednesday seeking damages in connection with an incident in July 2012 involving Judge Sridhar Boini at the Social Security Administration’s office on Lackawanna Avenue in Scranton.
According to the court documents, the woman, who as employed by an outside agency as a security guard, was summoned into a hearing room by Judge Boini. Once there, the judge, who reviews Social Security disability cases, made small talk with her, then grabbed her breast and attempted to kiss her against her will.
The woman immediately reported the incident to Scranton police. An investigation revealed Judge Boini was previously accused in 2011 of indecently assaulting another woman, who also alleged he had grabbed her breast. That woman reported the incident to the Social Security Administration, but opted not to pursue criminal charges at that time.
The Times-Tribune does not identify victims of sexual assault.
Judge Boini was charged in November 2012, with one count of simple assault and two counts of indecent assault for the incidents involving both women. He pleaded guilty in January to the simple assault charge involving the Duryea woman and was sentenced to three months house arrest and two years probation. The other charges involving the second woman were dropped in exchange for the plea.
In a phone interview, Mr. Moran, of the law firm Lenahan & Dempsey, said the fact federal officials had knowledge Judge Boini was previously accused of assault makes his client’s case all the more egregious.
“They shared the responsibility of protecting our client from harm, especially when they had notice this judge engaged in abhorrent, outrageous behavior before,” Mr. Moran said. “He abused his authority and power as a judge and a federal agency failed to protect her.”
Mr. Moran said his client has suffered greatly since the incident, developing depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. His claim for damages was filed through an administrative action directly with the Social Security Administration, which employed Judge Boini, and the federal Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for protecting federal property.
The two departments have six months to review the claim to determine if they will pay the requested damages. If they decline the claim or do not respond, the next step would be to file a federal lawsuit, Mr. Moran said.
Judge Boini could not be reached for comment. At an investigative hearing held by the Social Security Administration, the judge said he had been drinking heavily the day of the incident and did not realize what he was doing, according to a transcript of the hearing included with Mr. Moran’s claim for damages.
Judge Boini was suspended after he was charged. It could not be determined Wednesday whether he remains employed by the Social Security Administration. In August, Chief Administrative Law Judge Debra Bice sought to have Judge Boini removed from office by filing a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board, a quasi-judicial agency that reviews disciplinary actions against federal employees. No information on the outcome of that action could be obtained Wednesday.
Mr. Moran said he spoke to an attorney with the Social Security Administration and was advised it is still pending.
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