ELKINS - Randolph County Circuit Court Judge Jaymie Godwin Wilfong officially answered a formal statement of charges by the West Virginia Judicial Investigation Commission Wednesday concerning her past affair with then-North Central Community Corrections director Travis Carter.
Wilfong self-reported the relationship to the JIC on Oct. 14, 2013, according to a press release Wednesday. The release went on to state that her self-report followed "reports from the judge's law clerk, the county prosecuting attorney and several local attorneys who practiced before the judge."
Both Randolph County Prosecuting Attorney Michael Parker and local attorney Chris Cooper have confirmed they filed complaints.
A JIC representative said Wednesday the matter has been taken over by the West Virginia Office of Disciplinary Counsel, Lawyer Disciplinary Board, because Wilfong is a sitting member of the Judicial Hearing Board. That association, the JIC official said, is a conflict of interest.
Rachael Fletcher Cipoletti, chief lawyer with the Disciplinary Counsel, declined comment when contacted by The Inter-Mountain Wednesday because her office had not yet received Wilfong's answer.
In the press release, the judge said:
"I have let down my husband, my staff, and everyone who previously looked up to me as a judicial officer. The local attorneys who filed reports are my friends and colleagues. Their comments caused me to re-evaluate myself, my marriage, and the way that people whom I work with perceive me.
"What I did was morally wrong and it created discomfort among those who surround me. I wish to apologize to each of those individuals and humbly ask for their forgiveness. I thank them for their courage in publicly sharing their insight. Their guidance and direction has saved my life and my marriage.
"I apologize to the people of Randolph County and to the other judges and justices in West Virginia upon whom my immoral affair was a bad reflection. Please be assured that my improper extrajudicial conduct did not ever adversely affect any decision, any litigant, or any hearing over which I presided.
"On a personal note, I publicly thank and again apologize to my husband whom I love more than I can express in words. When other people would have turned and walked away, Matt stood strong, by my side, and taught me the meaning of true love. He is a blessing which I will never take for granted again."
The Randolph County Commission first suspended Carter - without pay - at an emergency meeting on Oct. 16. The Commission later amended the suspension to include pay and addressed the topic during its Oct. 17 regularly scheduled session, when it also unanimously voted to hire an outside law firm - Marshall, Dennehey, Warner, Coleman and Goggin of Pittsburgh - to investigate the situation.
Carter officially resigned his position on Dec. 5 following the completion of the investigation.
In his resignation letter, Carter wrote, "I am informing you that I am resigning from my position as Director of North Central Community Corrections, effective today (Dec. 5). Thank you for the opportunities for professional development that you have provided me during the last eight years of my dedicated service.
"It has been a painful decision to resign, but my family and I have decided that it is best to find other employment," the letter continues. "It would be difficult for me to remain in the position and to be an effective leader in light of the ethical allegations surrounding Judge Wilfong.
"We have made the decision to reach an agreement with the county in order to bring this matter to a closure. The county has not uncovered any evidence that I have committed any crime, because I have committed no criminal act. We appreciate the support that so many in the community have provided us during this difficult time."
Terms of the agreement between Carter and the county were not disclosed.
Wilfong - the judge for the 20th Judicial Circuit - has served in that role since 2009. Her term is set to expire in 2016. Harry G. Deitzler of Hill Peterson, Carper, Bee and Deitzler of Charleston and Elkins attorney David A. Sims are serving as counsel for Wilfong in the matter.