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Judge a Suicide As Reports Cite Sexual Conduct

8-21-1988 Washington:

SEATTLE, Aug. 20— A judge killed himself in a deserted hallway of the county courthouse Thursday after he learned that allegations of sexual misconduct were being published. A friend said the judge felt hounded by the press and unable to bear it anymore.

Judge Gary M. Little of King County Superior Court was found dead Thursday night of a self-inflicted bullet wound to the head, officials said.

He left a note saying: ''I have chosen to take my life. It's an appropriate end to the present situation.''

In the past six years, Mr. Little has been officially criticized or disciplined over improper contacts with juvenile defendants, according to reports made public in 1985. The Rumors Persisted

But rumors persisted of more serious sexual misconduct, leading a political challenger to raise those contacts as a campaign issue this year. They also led reporters from several news organizations to pursue reports that Judge Little had used his influence to coerce young men into performing sex.

Mr. Little, who was 49 years old and a judge since 1980, announced last month that he would not seek a third term, acknowledging that innuendo about his work with teen-age boys was the reason. He said he planned to move to California and go into a different line of work.

Judge Little shot himself about an hour before The Seattle Post-Intelligencer started printing Friday's editions, which contained allegations by five men, three of whom were former students of Judge Little's, that he had coerced them into having sex with him. The Seattle Times also reported Friday that it had been investigating Judge Little.

''He said he felt he'd been hounded by the press and he just couldn't take it anymore,'' said Camden Hall, a lawyer who was a friend of Judge Little and who spoke to him on the telephone minutes before the judge died. ''It was too much pressure. The hounding wouldn't stop.''

''He was not only driven into disgrace but to death,'' said Hal Foster, an art history professor and author who was interviewed from Paris by telephone by the Times.

Mr. Foster, who took Judge Little's law class at Lakeside School in the 1970's, said there was no sexual contact involving him and that he wasn't aware of any with his classmates. Newspaper Issues Statement

J. D. Alexander, executive editor of The Post-Intelligencer, said in a press release that Judge Little's death ''is a tragedy that touches the community at several levels. Certainly the most tragic is the loss of a human life.''

The newspaper's investigation was warranted, the statement said, because of a ''conspiracy of silence'' in ''key levels of the community'' about the judge's behavior.

A one-page, handwritten note, addressed to no one specifically, was found on a bench near Mr. Little's body, said Vaughn Van Zant, an investigator with the King County medical examiner. The medical examiner would not release its contents, but The Times reported the note said:

''I have chosen to take my life. It's an appropriate end to the present situation. I had hoped that my decision to withdraw from the election and leave public life would have closed the matter. Apparently these steps are not satisfactory to those who feel more is required, so be it.'' ..Source.. by NYTimes

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