HARRISBURG, Pa. – A district judge described by his attorney as "socially inept and challenged with women" was suspended without pay Tuesday for two months for behavior that included calling female lawyers repeatedly and making uninvited visits to their homes or offices.
The Court of Judicial Discipline also placed North East District Judge Gerard Alonge on probation until his current term expires at the end of next year and directed him to continue getting mental health treatment.
The 51-year-old Alonge apologized in court for behavior that the court described as "bizarre and weird" and "conduct akin to 'stalking.'"
"Never did I act or speak with malice, nor did I ever seek to cause distress to the women," Alonge said during a court hearing that included videotaped testimony by lawyers who praised his work as a judge.
After the decision, his lawyer said he was satisfied with the result.
"He'll comply with all the conditions and hopefully put this matter behind him and hopefully get back to work," attorney Philip Friedman said.
In a 20-page written opinion issued last month, the court said Alonge called the women repeatedly — often at night, even after being told to stop — and learned intimate details of their private lives that suggested he had investigated them.
"This is beyond unsettling — this is scary," wrote Judge Joseph M. James for the seven-member court.
A part-time public defender arrived home in October 2007 with her young son in the car and was surprised when Alonge pulled in behind her, introduced himself and said he was there "to meet the phenomenal and sensational attorney" he had heard about.
When Alonge called her the next night, the woman told her boyfriend, "It appears as though I have a man freak on my hands," according to the opinion.
"We regard this conduct ... as preposterous and certainly as demonstrating an appalling lack of judgment and good sense," James wrote.
Friedman described his client as "socially inept and challenged with women," a harmless would-be Romeo who hasn't dated in years. He said the never-married judge has difficulty picking up on social cues, takes medication and sees a psychologist weekly for help with depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
"This is not a case about a district judge using his office for personal benefit," Friedman told the court.
But Joseph A. Massa Jr. with the Judicial Conduct Board, which pursued the case against Alonge, said the actions in question did have a link to his status as a judge.
"But for his judicial position, he would not be in a position with these five specific individuals to act as he did," Massa said.
A second charge, that Alonge had misrepresented his professional credentials when running for office, was previously withdrawn.