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.A state commission hearing on sexual harassment and judicial misconduct complaints against a Rhode Island district court judge is now underway.

Opening statements began on Monday before the state Commission on Judicial Tenure and Discipline in Judge Raphael Ovalles' case.

Dozens of witnesses are expected to testify about allegations that Ovalles degraded women and mistreated court staff, lawyers and the public.

Ovalles has denied the allegations. The Providence Journal reports his lawyer characterized the accusations as a witch hunt spurred by untrustworthy witnesses and distorted facts.

The commission in 2015 said substantial evidence existed that Ovalles violated the standards of judicial conduct.

Ovalles has been relieved from all judicial duties with pay.

The commission will issue a recommendation to the state Supreme Court after the hearing.

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