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Arkansas Judge Accused Of Trading Sentence Reductions For Sex

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 18/11/2015 Andy Campbell

Arkansas state judicial regulators are trying to unseat a judge who they accuse of trading court favors for sexual favors with defendants.

In a shocking statement of allegations filed Tuesday, the state Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission accused Cross County District Judge Joseph Boeckmann of giving preferential court treatment to "young Caucasian male litigants" that he had sexual relations with, and using their community service hours for work at his own home. The commission also accused Boeckmann of having child pornography on his computer.

Boeckmann will have 30 days to respond to the charges, which are ethical and not criminal, according to The Arkansas Times. The state agency only has the authority to ask that the judge stop presiding. If he refuses, the agency could seek an extraordinary order from the state Supreme Court to have him suspended while they await a full trial.

The allegations were referred to a special state prosecutor for review. The state hasn't said whether it'll file criminal charges.

The allegations against Boeckmann, obtained by Arkansas Online, include:

  • Boeckmann issued "substitutionary sentences" to certain defendants, and would later call them to suggest doing work at his home. There, he'd offer sentence reductions or dismissals for sexual relations.
  • He had an ongoing sexual relationship with a man whose sister was a regular defendant  in his  courtroom. Boeckmann used his power to influence the criminal investigation against the woman, and never reported his relationship with her brother to the state commission.
  • The judge handed young men smaller fines and less community service than women who committed the same or similar crimes.
  • Boeckmann allowed litigants to perform their community service at his house:

"The 'work' usually consisted of picking up cans either alongside city roads in Wynne, or actually picking up cans at Boeckmannn's residence, wherein Boeckmann would photograph the buttocks of the men as they were bending to retrieve the garbage. Multiple male litigants have been photographed by Boeckmann during these 'community serivce' type sentences. Boeckmann maintained these photographs of male litigants' buttocks in his home for his own personal use. In addition to the illegal sentences, Boeckmann has used his judicial status to form relationships, personal and sexual, with male litigants."

There are several other instances listed in the court document in which defendants said Boeckmann gave them money to pose nude, or didn't force them to pay court fees after asking for sexual favors. One defendant said Boeckmann asked for help removing pornographic images from his computer. The commission says Boeckmann's computer will be searched for child pornography.

Jeff Rosenzweig, the judge's attorney, told The Arkansas Times, "We will file a document denying the charges and will be defending against the allegations in front of the commission."

The judge took the bench in 2009, according to KAIT. His seat is up for re-election next year, though he hasn't filed for re-election yet.

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