US judge in hot water over video
04 November 2011, 17:01
McAllen, USA - A judge who presides over child abuse cases said on Thursday that his daughter posted a YouTube video of him beating her several years ago because he told her he was reducing her financial support and taking away her Mercedes.
Arkansas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, 51, issued a statement through his lawyer in which he questioned his 23-year-old daughter Hillary's motives for posting the secretly made 2004 video online last week. The three-page statement did not include an apology for the beating, in which the judge lashed his daughter with a belt 17 times in the legs while she begged him to stop.
Police launched an investigation into the beating on Wednesday, and on Thursday, the state Department of Family and Protective Services confirmed that it had requested that Adams not handle any of its cases while it conducts its own investigation.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesperson for the agency, declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the investigation. But he said in general, the agency would only investigate a case in which a suspected abuse victim has already reached adulthood if there are still children in the home who could be at risk. Adams was granted joint custody of his 10-year-old daughter in his 2007 divorce.
There are no allegations of alleged abuse by Adams against his younger daughter, who primarily resides with her mother, Hallie Adams. Crimmins declined to say whether his agency is investigating the parental fitness of Hallie Adams, who lashed Hillary once during the 2004 beating.
Hits daughter with belt
Crimmins said his agency ordinarily wouldn't disclose that its investigations, but it did in this case because the investigation is the reason it requested that William Adams not be assigned to its cases.
Adams, Aransas County's top judge, was elected in 2001 and has dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year alone, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking determine whether parents were fit to raise their children.
In the video, which has been viewed on YouTube more than 2.4 million times, the judge lashes his then 16-year-old daughter with a belt while she wailed and pleaded with him to stop. At the beginning of the video he tells his wife to get his younger daughter out of the room. He told a TV station on Wednesday that the video "looks worse than it is" and that he was just disciplining his child.
The child protection investigation comes on top of investigations by Rockport Police, Texas Rangers and the State Commission on Judicial Conduct. Adams said in his statement on Thursday that he will "respond" to any investigations.
County officials confirmed that Adams will not hear cases related to Child Protective Services for at least the next two weeks. And the top administrator in Aransas County cast doubt on whether Adams could credibly return to the bench.
"I would think it would be very difficult," said Aransas County Judge CH "Burt" Mills Jr. "Personally I don't see how he can recover from this."
If the judicial commission and police investigations don't lead to punishment or charges, Adams could be safe on the bench until he's up for re-election in three years.
Hillary Adams says the outpouring of support and encouragement she's received since posting the clip last week is tempered by the sadness that it's her father repeatedly lashing her with a belt and threatening to beat her "into submission."
"I'm experiencing some regret because I just pulled the covers off my own father's misbehaviour after so many people thought he was such a good person. ... But so many people are also telling me I did the right thing," she told The Associated Press outside her mother's home in the Gulf Coast town of Portland on Wednesday.
She said the attack was not the only one. "It did happen regularly for a period of time," she told NBC's Today show on Thursday during an appearance with her mother.
In that interview, Hallie Adams blamed her ex-husband's bouts of violence on his "addiction," calling it a "family secret." She did not elaborate. Their 22-year marriage ended in 2007. She also said William Adams had threatened to have their custody agreement modified to take their younger daughter away.
William Adams painted a different picture.
"Just prior to the YouTube upload, a concerned father shared with his 23-year-old daughter that he was unwilling to continue to work hard and be her primary source of financial support, if she was going to simply 'drop out,' and strive to achieve no more in life than to work part time at a video game store," Adams' statement said. "Hillary warned her father if he reduced her financial support, and took away her Mercedes automobile, which her father had provided, he would live to regret it."
Hillary Adams did not immediately respond to email requests on Thursday seeking a response. She said on Wednesday that she turned on the video camera in 2004 because her parents were angry that she had downloaded pirated content online and she sensed something was going to happen.
Corpus Christi television station KZTV caught up with the judge on Wednesday and he said, "In my mind, I haven't done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing," Adams said. "And I did lose my temper, but I've since apologised."