PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A local district justice, accused of asking female defendants for sexual acts in return for favorable rulings, was in court Tuesday morning for a preliminary hearing.
Judge Ross Cioppa spent less than five minutes in the courtroom. He waived his preliminary hearing to move all charges to trial.
Cioppa walked out of court and deferred all comments to his attorneys.
He was relieved of his duties as magisterial judge in Rankin earlier this month. Now, Cioppa is on the other side of the law.
Two women have accused the judge of making sexual advances towards them in return for favor in their cases.
“While it was a difficult day, it was in his best interest to waive today because no good would come from just going through a preliminary hearing. We did not believe if we were to have one, any charges would be dismissed,” attorney Phillip DiLucente said.
Cioppa is facing charges of indecent assault, bribery and official oppression.
One woman said Cioppa forced her to touch him inappropriately and took pictures of her in his chamber.
Officials said Cioppa later ruled in her favor in a case that was before him.
In another instance, a woman said she refused Cioppa’s advances and said if she called him, he would make it go away.
He ruled against her in the case.
The District Attorney’s Office began an investigation earlier this year, after numerous complaints were reported from police, court officers and witnesses.
“I want to make it very clear, this is a very difficult day for a man who has served his community and keep in mind, this gentleman standing next to me, Judge Cioppa, had over 80,000 cases,” DiLucente said.
Judge Cioppa will be back in court on Dec. 14 for formal arraignment.