SUBSCRIBE NOW
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.
SUBSCRIBE NOW
$5 for 3 months. Save 83%.

Ark. judge is investigated for sex abuse, misconduct

Claudia Lauer
Associated Press

Wynne, Ark. – — For many male defendants in Judge Joseph Boeckmann’s courtroom, the initial deal seemed simple enough: The judge would approach them after court, either himself or through a bailiff, and offer a way out of traffic or court fines.

His instructions were to gather some cans and bring them to his house or another location. Then he asked the defendants to take off their shirts, pretend to be picking up trash and let the judge take a few photos of them bending over to prove they had performed community service.

Sometimes, the men told investigators, the encounters went further. The judge might tell them to spread their legs a little. He might touch their buttocks a little. He might offer them a drink. Then the fines would disappear.

Now dozens of the defendants have accused Boeckmann of sexual abuse and misconduct, saying the small-town judge paid them to allow him to spank their naked buttocks with a paddle and to take photos of the red skin. Others said they posed nude in exchange for money to pay off fines.

The head of the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission called it “if not the worst, among the worst cases of judicial misconduct.”

The case brought into the open gossip that had circulated in private.

Boeckmann “systematically used his authority and the trust of the state of Arkansas … to prey upon people he knew would be less credible, people who were in danger of losing their houses, their jobs and their freedom. He is a predator,” said David Sachar, the commission’s executive director.

The 70-year-old Cross County judge, who has denied the allegations through his attorney, resigned in May, ending the commission’s investigation. But at least part of the probe has been turned over to criminal investigators. No charges have been filed.

“His resignation is not to be construed as an admission of anything,” said Boeckmann’s attorney, Jeff Rosenzweig. He said his client concluded it was “not worth going through the hearing to keep a position that he would have vacated at the end of this year anyway.”