ATHENS TOWNSHIP -- A district judge near Sayre is accused of exchanging racy text messages and having sex with the girlfriend of a defendant in his drug and alcohol treatment court.
The state's judicial conduct board filed administrative charges.
Magisterial District Judge Michael Shaw has been in office for more than two decades but now he's finding himself on the other side of the law. If the accusations against him prove to be true, he could be suspended, fined or removed from office.
Employees at his office said he is off until Monday.
The charges accuse Shaw of "sexting" while on the job, giving people special treatment, contacting people outside of court, and being biased.
"It's a little discouraging to know that somebody who is judging cases or dealing with cases like this, is doing something that he should probably go to jail for," said Towanda resident Sabrina McEwen.
According to court papers, when Shaw was in charge of Bradford County's treatment court, he sexted and had sex with the girlfriend of a defendant in the program. Investigators say Shaw sexted other women, including a probation officer.
Shaw is also accused of giving special treatment to defendants and in some cases lessening or even dropping their charges so their fines would be lower or nonexistent.
That was not the case for Amy Goudreau of Athens who was in Shaw's court for a traffic ticket.
"I always thought, I mean, he was a decent man. He's been in office for 20-some years, you would not think," Goudreau said. "You should practice what you preach. You should not be sexting. I mean, if some other person did that he would be, 'oh, well, you did this, this, and this' and it shouldn't be like that at all. It's just common sense."
Magisterial District Judge Michael Shaw has 30 days to file a motion either admitting or denying the charges. If nothing is filed, it is assumed Shaw is denying the allegations. If he is found guilty he could be suspended, fined or removed from office.