Social worker ‘who was groomed, sexually harassed and pressured to perform oral sex on married Boston judge in his chambers’ will be paid $425,000 by state trial court before her case goes before a jury in civil case
- Former social worker Tammy Cagle will be paid $425,000 by the state trial court to settle the lawsuit before her case goes to trial
- The settlement filed this week will end her lawsuit against the Massachusetts court system
- Cagle and Judge Thomas Estes became involved in 2016 while she was assigned to the Pittsfield Drug Court, where he sat one day a week
- Cagle alleges in the lawsuit that Estes used his position of authority to pressure her into performing sex acts in his chambers
- Estes was suspended indefinitely in 2018 for having sex with a social worker in his courthouse chambers. He resigned a day later
- Estes says their relationship was consensual and denies harassing Cagle or playing in a role in her losing her job
- Estes has not been criminally charged, but still faces a federal lawsuit from Cagle scheduled to go to trial in March
A former social worker who said she was ‘groomed, sexually harassed, and pressured for oral sex’ by a former Massachusetts judge, will be paid $425,000 by the state trial court in a settlement filed this week that will end one of her lawsuits.
Tammy Cagle became involved with Judge Thomas Estes in 2016 while she was assigned to the Pittsfield Drug Court, where he sat one day a week.
In one of two lawsuits filed by Cagle, she accuses the judge of pressuring her into performing oral sex on him in his chambers in Belchertown, Massachusetts, where he was presiding judge, then claims he pushed her out of the drug court when she tried to end the relationship.
Estes, who was married at the time, said their relationship was consensual and denies harassing Cagle or playing in a role in her losing her job. He claims she was the one who continued to contact him after she had moved out of state.
Estes resigned in 2018, one after day after the state’s highest court suspended him from the bench indefinitely. He now practices law in Northampton. Estes has not been criminally charged, but still faces a federal lawsuit from Cagle scheduled to go to trial in March.
The settlement that was filed this week will end Cagle’s lawsuit against the Massachusetts court system.
‘I feel gratitude toward the trial court because they validated that something very bad happened to me and they apologized for it,’ Cagle told the Boston Globe. ‘It was a struggle — going up against a powerful person — but I feel good that I can be an example for other women. I want women to know they can navigate the system.
‘It was terrifying. I was scared for my life,’ she said.
Tammy Cagle (pictured in 2018) accused former judge Thomas Estes in a lawsuit of pressuring her into performing oral sex and then pushing her out of the court when she tried to end the relationship
Estes, pictured above in court in March, has said that his relationship with Cagle was consensual and that he had nothing to do with her losing her job
Cagle said she wanted to break off the relationship after they both admitted their actions were wrong, but claimed he told her ‘it would be worse for me if someone found out.’
The relationship continued for months and Estes continues to asked for oral sex in his chambers, Cagle’s complaint alleges. She said he promised to help her with problems at work and would never ask for sex again, but that didn’t happen.
‘He shut the door, closed the blinds and wanted to continue what happened in the hotel room,’ Cagle said in an earlier interview with the Globe.
‘I told him, ‘No. I didn’t think it was a good idea.’ He started begging me.’
When Cagle tried to break it off again in 2017, she lost her job.
Estes has insisted that the relationship with Cagle was consensual and that she initiated it. He also said that when Cagle moved out of state, he breathed a sigh of relief, but said that she stayed in contact with him and even returned to Massachusetts to see him.
Judge Thomas Estes (pictured in March 2016) resigned a day after he was suspended indefinitely on Thursday for having sex with a social worker in his courthouse chambers
Estes, a former public defender was nominated to the court by Gov. Deval Patrick in 2014. He was the first justice of the Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown.
He also came under fire in 2016 when he sentenced a former high school athlete to probation after the athlete pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting two classmates. The case drew parallels to that of former Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner, who got just six months in jail for a sexual assault conviction.
Estes, who now practices law in Northampton, said he viewed Cagle as a ‘sexual outlet’ in a deposition taken during the federal lawsuit.
Cagle’s attorneys told the Boston Globe that the settlement shows that ‘the era of men in positions of power taking advantage of women is coming to an end. Tammy Cagle should be commended for having the strength to take on a sitting judge and the trial court. We are grateful to the trial court for recognizing her pain and acting appropriately.’
Cagle now works at a hospital near a Navajo reservation in New Mexico. She told the Globe that since leaving Massachusetts, she has worked in remote area of Alaska, a time she calls ‘the most healing time’ of her life.