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Loriann Ludwig couldn’t live without health insurance. The former jury commissioner and law librarian in Garrett County, Maryland, had an aggressive form of breast cancer.
And her boss at the time, Garrett County Circuit Court Judge Raymond G. Strubin, knew that, according to a federal lawsuit Ludwig filed last week in Maryland.
So he allegedly told her that if she stopped having sex with him despite her repeated attempts to end their years-long relationship, he would fire her—cutting her off from employer-sponsored health care.
Ludwig also alleges that at one point, Strubin sexually assaulted her when she refused to give him “50 blow jobs to celebrate her birthday.”
“The terror that Ludwig experienced during this period—which included Strubin repeatedly telling Ludwig that if she did not have sex with him, she would lose her health insurance and not be able to receive life-saving cancer treatments—remains with her to this day,” the lawsuit alleges.
The harassment lasted for years, according to the lawsuit. Now, Ludwig is accusing Strubin of battery, false imprisonment, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and the deprivation of her constitutional rights.
“As soon as he was aware of the cancer treatment, that’s when he started to kind of weaponize that information against her,” Ludwig’s attorney, Sammy Y. Sugiura, told VICE News.
About half of all Americans get their health insurance through their employer, as Ludwig did at the time of her April 2016 breast cancer diagnosis, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Even with insurance, the out-of-pocket costs for cancer treatments can be burdensome. For people without coverage, the expenses can be outright ruinous.
Ludwig’s own treatments were “grueling,” the lawsuit alleges, causing changes to her body, weight, and hair. Yet Strubin, whom Ludwig had once been in a consensual relationship with but wanted to leave, allegedly continued to force Ludwig to have sex. He went so far as to ask her to wear different wigs to work so that he could imagine he was with another woman, according to the lawsuit.
After Ludwig’s health started to improve in April 2019, she tried again to end the relationship. But the harassment only got worse, according to the lawsuit. On April 29, when Strubin asked Ludwig to “give him 50 blow jobs because she turned 50 years old that day,” she refused, according to the lawsuit.
When Ludwig attempted to leave the judge’s chambers, “Strubin became enraged and grabbed Ludwig and pushed her toward his desk. Strubin then slammed Ludwig’s face down toward his desk, pulled down her clothes, and forcibly had sex with Ludwig, without her consent,” the lawsuit alleges.
When Ludwig and Strubin met in 2009, Ludwig was working at a local bookstore, and the two struck up a friendship. Though both were married, the relationship eventually turned romantic, according to the lawsuit.
Years later, in 2014, Maryland’s governor tapped Strubin to fill a vacancy on the Garrett County Circuit Court, according to the lawsuit. And although Ludwig wasn’t qualified for the gig, Strubin arranged for her to take a position in his office as the jury commissioner and law librarian, according to the lawsuit.
As soon as her employment began, however, Strubin allegedly asked Ludwig to “engage in a variety of romantic activities during work hours.” Often, they’d meet at a local golf club for drinks or area motels for sex while on the clock, according to the lawsuit. Strubin allegedly escalated that into demands that Ludwig have sex with him in his chambers.
The relationship was a secret, however. And when Ludwig decided she wanted to end things in 2015, Strubin allegedly said that “if she stopped having sex with him, he would fire her,” according to the lawsuit.
So, although Ludwig continued to say that she wanted to end the relationship, Strubin still “required Ludwig to have sex with him numerous times per week,” according to the lawsuit, sometimes using hand signals like the Vulcan salute to indicate that he wanted to have sex that day. He allegedly told her that if she stopped having sex with him, he would ruin her life.
“Despite these constant threats, Ludwig was ready to quit her job and end her relationship with Strubin,” the lawsuit alleges. “Unfortunately, Ludwig was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in April 2016, and she had to keep her job in order to have the necessary health insurance so that she could stay alive.”
Ludwig was only able to imagine her life without Strubin when she began to recover from breast cancer in 2019. It was around that time, in April 2019, that Strubin “forcibly had sex with Ludwig, without her consent.”
After that alleged assault, Ludwig permanently left work. She was later terminated for not reporting to her job, Sugiura said.
“Her being able to deal with it, even just speak about it today, is quite different from two years ago, where she was frightened even talking, saying his name,” Sugiura said. “There was a fear that I rarely see in which she just thought he would walk through the door for some reason when we were talking about things.”
He added her goal has long been to “make sure that this didn’t happen to anyone else.”
A person who picked up the phone at the circuit court’s office declined to comment on the lawsuit against Strubin last Friday, and subsequent requests for comment to the judge’s chambers were not returned. Strubin himself did not immediately respond to VICE News’ requests for comment on the allegations.
The Maryland Attorney General’s Office declined to comment due to pending litigation, as did a spokesperson for the Maryland Judiciary.