May 12, 2016

Judge Conveniently Sentenced Male Defendants to Community Service-At His Home


I had both Metro and the NYTimes write about this story and not wanting to load the readers with too many stories on any particular day I waited, until today (24 hrs)

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An Arkansas judge has resigned after a state commission accused him of ordering male defendants to be spanked, engage in sex acts and bend over for thousands of photographs to fulfill their “community service,” a senior state official said on Tuesday.

The resignation of the district court judge, O. Joseph Boeckmann Jr., was effective immediately after it was sent to the State Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission on Monday, said David J. Sachar, the commission’s executive director.

The commission, which investigates judges over possible misconduct or for disabilities that prevent them from doing their jobs, began an inquiry into Judge Boeckmann in 2014 over a possible conflict of interest in an unrelated case on elder care, Mr. Sachar said. But that case took a surprising turn when court employees began asking investigators, Did you hear about the boys?

“Then the dam broke,” Mr. Sachar said.

As of Tuesday, no criminal charges had been filed, but Mr. Sachar said they were possible.

The commission began uncovering evidence and witness testimony related to the judge’s treatment of male defendants in traffic cases over the past few years, Mr. Sachar said. Men who had appeared before Judge Boeckmann in court said they were asked to go to his house or to some other location with bags of canned goods, ostensibly for charity. Then, according to their accounts, the judge told them to bend over and pick up the cans as he photographed them from behind for what he said would be evidence of community service, according to a filing on the commission’s website.

In one case from 2014, he gave a defendant his phone number and ordered him to come to his house, where he photographed the man bending over and offered him $300 to pose as Michelangelo’s statue of David, the commission said.

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The commission said it had obtained up to 4,600 photos of men — some identified as defendants — who are shown naked after an “apparent” paddling or other sex acts. The commission sent about 1,050 of the photos to Judge Boeckmann’s lawyer last week with a letter saying it expected to add them to the allegations about his conduct, Mr. Sachar said.

“We are not through processing them,” Mr. Sachar said in an interview Tuesday, referring to the photographs and potential witnesses. “They were defendants in traffic court cases, but possibly some other misdemeanors.”

The judge’s lawyer, Jeff Rosenzweig, declined to comment on the photographs but denied that Judge Boeckmann had done anything wrong. Mr. Rosenzweig said the judge had been near the end of his second elected four-year term in Cross County when he resigned.

“He does not want to get into a big fight about the veracity or inaccuracy of the allegations over an office that he was going to vacate anyway, and that is why he decided to resign,” Mr. Rosenzweig said. “He did not admit any wrongdoing, and he is not going to admit any wrongdoing.”

Mr. Sachar said the commission was assisting prosecutors on possible criminal charges.

“If a criminal charge is brought, he will be fighting that vehemently,” Mr. Rosenzweig said of the former judge.

The commission was continuing its investigation and it had interviewed hundreds of witnesses since August 2015, looking at the judge’s docket sheets, Mr. Sachar said.

“We have identified three dozen people by name that we have contacted or know it happened,” he said, referring to people who said they had experienced inappropriate sex acts, paddling or photography or payments by the judge. “We suspect there are more.”

The State Supreme Court ordered the judge to stop hearing cases in late 2015 as the investigation unfolded, but he was still drawing a salary and benefits. His resignation on Monday, which was sent to Mr. Sachar and to Gov. Asa Hutchinson, means he is permanently disqualified from being a judge and public servant.

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