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Beating video impels judicial review
Father seen lashing girl is judge whose future is in jeopardy
Question of the Day
McALLEN, Texas — A Texas judge who presides over child-abuse cases said 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.
Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, 51, issued a statement through his attorney, 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 requested that Judge Adams not handle any of its cases while it conducts its own investigation.
Late Thursday, police said the judge will not face charges because the five-year statutes of limitations have passed.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman 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. Judge Adams was granted joint custody of his 10-year-old daughter in his 2007 divorce.
There are no allegations of alleged abuse by Judge Adams against his younger daughter, who primarily resides with her mother, Hallie Adams. Mr. Crimmins declined to say whether his agency is investigating the parental fitness of Mrs. Adams, who lashed Hillary once during the 2004 beating.
Mr. Crimmins said his agency ordinarily wouldn’t disclose its investigations, but it did in this case because the investigation is the reason it requested that Judge Adams not be assigned to its cases.
Judge Adams 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 to 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. He told a TV station Wednesday that the video “looks worse than it is” and that he was just disciplining his child.
Judge Adams said in his statement Thursday that he will “respond” to any investigations.
County officials confirmed that Judge Adams will not hear cases related to Child Protective Services for at least the next two weeks. If the judicial commission and police investigations don’t lead to punishment or charges, Judge 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.”
She said the attack was not a one-time occurrence. “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.
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