06/24/2024

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Footage of federal prosecutor Duane “DAK” Kees when he hosted a town hall, warning parents about online dangers facing kids. YouTube screengrab Fox affiliate KNWA.

‘You do know I am in charge of your promotions right?’: Federal prosecutor exposed after kissing scandal resigns from ethics board when DOJ report surfaces

Footage of federal prosecutor Duane “Dak” Kees when he hosted a town hall, warning parents about online dangers facing kids (YouTube screengrab via KNWA).

U.S. Attorney Duane “Dak” Kees has resigned from a role overseeing the ethics of federal judges, a reported move that comes roughly four years after he stepped down from the U.S. Attorney’s office in Arkansas amid a probe into his allegedly improper intimate relationship with a subordinate.

The allegations underpinning the scandal that prompted his first resignation were laid out in detail in a newly-released Justice Department Office of the Inspector General (OIG) report and first reported by The Intercept on Tuesday.

The outlet reported that after publication, a spokesperson for Arkansas Attorney General Tim Griffin disclosed that Kees “is resigning his position on the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission.”

The attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to Law&Crime’s request for comment.

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    According to the 16-page report from the OIG, Kees had an “intimate relationship” with a subordinate employee that began in early February 2018. Both admitted to becoming “fast friends,” before Kees said they started “flirting and having inappropriate conversations” and “trading stories of their (and others’) sexual experiences.”

    The woman, whose name was redacted from the report, told the inspector that she initially resisted sharing her personal stories but felt “she had to because he was ‘the lead law enforcement officer’ in the area.”

    The flirting turned into “sexual touching in the office or elevator at the end of the day” and “[Redacted] said that she let Kees kiss her because Kees was a friend, and she did not want to hurt his feelings. [Redacted] said Kees ‘asked’ for a kiss every other week until she stopped kissing him around September 2018.”

    The federal prosecutor said he only kissed her three to four times.

    The woman said she knew what Kees would expect when, at the end of the day, he would “close the blinds in his office and would stand in the doorway and invite her in,” the report states. Kees also allegedly told the woman he wasn’t looking for a relationship “outside of the work place.”

    When the inspector general probed whether the subordinate felt like if she didn’t comply with his solicitations that she may lose her job, she responded that as a U.S. Attorney, Kees “could remove her any time he wanted” and she knew if she didn’t kiss him “it would have ruined their friendship and ‘hurt his feelings.’”

    “I turned him down more than I accepted,” she told the inspector general.

    She also told investigators that at one point while riding in an elevator together, when she refused his advances, he remarked: “You do know I’m in charge of your promotions, right?”

    Kees told investigators he didn’t recall saying this.

    Kees and his subordinate had stopped their relationship before a Justice Department rule for U.S. Attorneys was formally established barring relationships between supervisors and employees, the DOJ OIG report points out. But the OIG also highlights: Kees was “warned,” just like other federal prosecutors at their orientation, that such relationships were prohibited.

    The former federal prosecutor stepped down from the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Arkansas in 2020 and then, in 2023 he was appointed to the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission. According to The Associated Press, with the details of the now years-old probe resurfacing and Kees’ second resignation complete, another appointee to the commission has already been put into place.

    Patrick Harris, who serves as the director of advocacy for the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law, will replace Kees.

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