A South Carolina man has filed a sensational, $10-million lawsuit against longtime Fox News personality Andrew Napolitano, aka The Judge, accusing the former New Jersey Superior Court jurist of “forcibly sodomiz[ing] and sexually assault[ing]” him when he was a 20-year-old criminal defendant more than three decades ago, and then using his judicial power to reduce the young man’s sentence as a way of ensuring his silence.
More recently, the lawsuit alleges: “In a brazen attempt to intimidate Plaintiff and stop him from filing this lawsuit,” Napolitano, now 70, “reached out to law enforcement authorities and made completely false criminal accusations against Plaintiff,” telling police “that Plaintiff had made threats of violence against him. These claims were outright fabrications. Plaintiff never made any threats whatsoever of any kind…”
The lawsuit—filed Friday by a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, cleaning services company owner named Charles Corbishley in the federal court of the Southern District of New York—demands a jury trial and seeks compensatory and punitive damages totaling $10 million.
In response to the ugly allegations, a Fox News spokesperson sent The Daily Beast the following statement: “Judge Napolitano has assured us in the strongest possible terms that these allegations are false and he will fight them aggressively in court.”
Through his attorney Tom Clare, of the media-savvy Clare Locke law firm, Napolitano said in a statement: “These accusations are completely false. Full stop. I have never done anything like what the accuser describes, at any time, to anyone, for any reason. I have never had any personal relationship or inappropriate contact or communication of any kind with the man making this accusation. Each and every one of his claims against me are pure fiction. Period.”
Clare said in his own statement: “This is an outrageous abuse of our court system. Before the suit was filed, Judge Napolitano reported Corbishley’s threatened action to federal law enforcement authorities, and he welcomes a full investigation. Given Corbishley’s violent past and threats to harm Judge Napolitano, law enforcement is monitoring his movements and taking additional steps to ensure Judge Napolitano’s safety. We will defeat these false allegations in court and look forward to exposing this brazen attempt to smear a dedicated former public servant with an abusive court proceeding.”
It was unclear if the lawsuit will affect Napolitano’s on-air appearances as a libertarian judicial analyst who, unlike most Fox News personalities, frequently criticizes the conduct of President Donald Trump. This story will include Fox News’ response, if any, to that question.
Corbishley’s complaint claims that after he “was facing arson charges stemming from a three-count indictment in November 1987” and substantial prison time in New Jersey, his defense attorney Robert A. Hollis, a crooked lawyer who allegedly was a friend of then-Judge Napolitano’s, had him plead guilty to the charges without a plea agreement and instructed him to show up at the judge’s house in Hackensack with a snow shovel and a Christmas card for Napolitano. (Hollis died in 2007.)
“Mr. Corbishley complied with his attorney’s request, and went to the residence as he had been instructed,” the lawsuit claims. “Upon arrival at the residence, Mr. Corbishley rang the doorbell and Defendant answered the door.
Plaintiff then handed over the Christmas card to [Napolitano] and told him that he was there to shovel snow.”
Napolitano “greeted Plaintiff by name, asking him: ‘how are you doing Charlie?’... then instructed Plaintiff to shovel the driveway,” the suit continues. “Plaintiff found this request to be peculiar, because the driveway already had been shoveled, and there did not appear to be any heavy snow around the house that needed shoveling.”
The narrative continues: Corbishley “did not understand why he had been asked to come over to this house and shovel snow for Judge Napolitano, since it was clear that there was no snow that needed to be shoveled. Shortly thereafter, Defendant NAPOLITANO came outside, dressed in a long trench coat.” Napolitano “then called out to Plaintiff and summoned him to come to the side of the house, saying ‘can you come back here for a minute?’ Plaintiff then walked over to the side of the house where Defendant NAPOLITANO was standing.”
After making small talk with Corbishley, the suit alleges, Napolitano approached him and said, “You know, you could be going away for a long time.”
Then: “As Defendant was speaking to Plaintiff he proceeded to place his hand on Plaintiff’s shoulder, and forced Plaintiff to his knees. As he pushed Plaintiff down toward the ground, Defendant told Plaintiff to ‘be a good boy.’ At this point, Defendant NAPOLITANO appeared to be masturbating through his clothing, moving his hand back and forth over his penis.
“Thereafter, Defendant NAPOLITANO pulled his erect penis out. Plaintiff Charles Corbishley was then forced to perform fellatio on the Honorable Andrew Napolitano, the presiding Justice on his criminal case. At this moment, Plaintiff was paralyzed with fear. He wanted desperately to stop Defendant NAPOLITANO’s sexual assault, but he was terrified about what Judge Napolitano would do to him if he resisted or fought back.”
The suit continues: “Defendant began to ejaculate into Plaintiff’s mouth, Plaintiff took off crying and ran away. Plaintiff was only 20 years old at the time of this sexual assault.”
The suit alleges that when Corbishley retained attorney Hollis—who claimed that Napolitano was “my friend”—he was unaware that Hollis had been “running a national prostitution ring at the time,” as well as engaging in other crimes detailed years later in a July 22, 1996 New York Magazine article, which referred to Hollis as a “lawyer of remarkable incompetence” and a “disgraced attorney, who was ‘second in command’ in a massive, sixteen (16) million-dollar prostitution and money laundering ring. In 1998, Hollis pled guilty to federal money laundering charges for prostitution rings, and served an eighteen-month prison sentence” as well as being “suspended from the New Jersey bar on multiple occasions, from 1982 to 1985, from 1993 to 1996, and for all of 1998.”
According to Corbishley’s lawsuit, around two days after the alleged assault, Hollis “intimated that he knew exactly what had happened between Judge Napolitano and Mr. Corbishley. Specifically, Hollis told Mr. Corbishley something to the effect that ‘we both have him now’ and ‘don't worry about anything.’”
Hollis had already arranged for the case to be moved to Judge Napolitano’s court, the suit claims, and after Corbishley pled guilty to all three charges, “the bottom two criminal charges were dismissed, and the top charge was amended… Judge Napolitano then imposed a remarkably lenient sentence, allowing Mr. Corbishley to avoid any jail time whatsoever, and instead, imposing a sentence of five-year’s probation, with 150 hours of community service. This sentence was exceptionally light, given the serious nature of the underlying criminal charges: arson, burglary of a motor vehicle, and aggravated arson as well as Plaintiff’s prior juvenile arson charge.”
The lawsuit notes: “By comparison, Edward Weedo—Mr. Corbishley’s co-defendant in the case, who was indicted on the exact same three criminal charges—was sentenced to several years in prison for committing the same crime.”
The Daily Beast’s attempts to reach Weedo on Friday were unsuccessful.
Tom Clare, meanwhile, added that Corbishley—who acknowledges a criminal past from which he claims to have been rehabilitated—“is a career criminal with a 25-year-long criminal record that includes arson, battery, unlawful weapons possession, credit card fraud, possession of stolen property, and drug distribution. It should be of grave concern to all judges and the other dedicated public officials who administer our criminal justice system that, decades after a routine criminal case, a former criminal defendant can, with no evidence, threaten to damage reputations and careers with these kinds of false and incendiary allegations. Judge Napolitano has had a long and distinguished career as a lawyer, jurist, television commentator and author.”
—With additional reporting by William Bredderman.