Prosecutor who impregnated defendant and had an affair with juror now stands for judge

Chris Ryan

Chris Ryan

An elected state attorney in Kentucky who admitted to impregnating a criminal defendant is now a candidate to become a circuit judge.

Matthew Leveridge, the Commonwealth attorney of Russell and Wayne counties, was never punished for having sex with Latisha Sartain in 2014. After Sartain told Leveridge’s wife about the affair, Leveridge decided to cancel Sartain’s early diversion agreement.

Eight years later, he wants to be elected to a higher position.

Ken Upchurch, a Republican for the 52nd district in the Kentucky House of Representatives, told the… Louisville Courier Journal he was shocked to learn that Leveridge was running to become a judge. “It’s like the head deacon of the church has an affair with the choir director and then wants to be the preacher,” Upchurch said.

While concerns have been raised that Leveridge’s actions could constitute a violation of attorney professional conduct, he has never been sanctioned by the Kentucky Supreme Court or charged with a criminal offense. Leveridge was the subject of a criminal investigation for alleged sex with jurors, however, court documents show.

“A few years ago I made a mistake in my life,” Leveridge told the… courier journal. “I acknowledged the mistake, sought forgiveness, took responsibility and accepted the consequences. I learned from the mistake and have since started living a better life, both personally and professionally.”

Latisha Sartain (now Lashley) was prosecuted by Leveridge’s office in 2011 for trafficking in a controlled substance. She was placed on a provisional diversion for five years and the affair began in 2014. It ended a few months later when Sartain became pregnant and she told his wife. Leveridge then went on to invalidate her deduction for the trial, although it was later reinstated by a special prosecutor who took over Leveridge in the case.

“If you’re a prosecutor, you can’t even talk to a defendant without her attorney present, let alone — well, this,” attorney Larry Rogers, who represented Sartain, told the court. Lexington Herald Leader at the time. “Overall, I think everyone can agree that this is a big, big, big no-no.”

A Attorney General’s Public Corruption/Special Investigations Division investigated whether Leveridge had committed official misconduct, but no charges were filed. Leveridge told investigators he had met Sartain through a probation officer with whom he also had sex.

He also admitted to having an affair with a juror in 2013 after she was fired as a deputy in a murder trial. He claimed to have believed her jury duty was over, although she said she was called to serve on another panel before being fired when the case was settled.

The juror told the investigation that Leveridge was “just using her for sex” and that she couldn’t understand why “someone with a wife, a child and such an important job would take such risks.” She added that he “often made the statement during her time with him that ‘I don’t have a boss'”, the courier journal reports.

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