Police: No charges to be filed against judge

November 4, 2011 1:47:14 AM PDT
Police say a Texas judge who was secretly videotaped beating his teenage daughter seven years ago won't face charges because the statutes of limitations have passed.

Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe said Thursday that Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams likely would have been charged with causing injury to a child and other assault offenses if the five-year statutes of limitations hadn't expired.

Adams is still being investigated by the state Department of Family and Protective Services, which has requested he not preside over any of its cases.

Adams' 23-year-old daughter, Hillary, posted the 8-minute clip of the 2004 beating on YouTube last week that shows her father savagely lash her 17 times with a belt.

Judge: Daughter posted beating video out of spite

A Texas family law judge says 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 issued a statement through his lawyer on Thursday in which he questions his daughter Hillary's motives for posting the secretly-made 2004 video online last week.

The judge does not apologize in the three-page statement for lashing his then 16-year-old daughter 17 times 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.

Police are investigating and Adams says he will "respond" to any investigations.

Full statement released by Judge Adams:

    My name is William A. Dudley. The statement which follows has been reviewed and approved for circulation by Judge William Adams.

    The seven year old video presently circulating the internet and now made the basis of international media attention, showing two parents disciplining their 16 year old daughter, who had been caught, by her own televised and internet reported admissions, engaged in repeated criminal activity, was posted for reasons other than as professed by the publisher.

    It is regrettable that Hillary Adams, a bright and gifted person, would include in her post that she is or was a disabled or a special needs child. As multiple media appearances clearly demonstrate, Hillary Adams is articulate, possesses a superior IQ, and is capable of functioning as a productive adult in today's complex society. No one should take the affliction of cerebral palsy lightly. Hillary's parents did not. Hillary's condition was monitored as a child and her medical needs met. However, neither should a perfectly capable adult try to use an affliction as a device for media sympathy. It should now be apparent to the world that "disabled" was mislabeled.

    In response to the internet post, the media has appropriately attempted to understand why Hillary Adams chose the present time to disseminate the video. To many, her answers to those questions have been confusing and hollow. As she has said by recent interview, she "hoarded" the secret tape for future use, but has not explained, even now, for what purpose. Very few people find palatable her claim that it was to "help" her father.

    Perhaps Hillary Adams should explain, if she felt she was raised by a tyrannical father, a claim shared with no one until five years after adulthood, why she insisted on living with her father and not her mother from the time of her parent's divorce, until she moved out on her own. Hillary Adams has been living on her own for some time, and has been an adult for almost six years, so why post the video in late 2011?

    William Adams is of the opinion that Hillary Adams is an extremely bright, highly functional, adult. The media has described her as a piano prodigy, who has competed at Carnegie Hall on multiple occasions. As one of Hillary's long term teachers noted in the press, Hillary, so close to accomplishment, has of recent "inexplicably dropped out, just two classes shy of completing her [college] studies." The video in question was recorded well before Hillary graduated high school. If the public must know, just prior to the You Tube 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. 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. The post was then uploaded. The public may wonder if this is the tyranny of which Hillary Adams speaks as her reason to disseminate the video seven years after it was recorded, and five years into adulthood? Is this the reason she "hoarded" the video for seven years?

    William Adams regrets the interruption and inconvenience his daughter's post has caused to the Aransas County, Texas community. Judge Adams is confident that when the dust settles and international media attention has passed, and the work ahead, whether civil, criminal, or administrative has taken it's full course and has been fully developed, with an opportunity for all sides to ask and answer relevant questions, it will be concluded that Hillary Adam's actions in 2011 were misguided and misleading.

    Judge Adams regrets, if true, that his daughter believes he is in need of healing from the family divorce. Divorce is certainly traumatic, and takes a significant toll on all, especially children. Judge Adams is of the opinion that Hillary's gesture is little more than a much needed but hard to believe explanation of why she chose to post the video. If this entire event was a plea for help and healing, the methodology is certainly unorthodox. Judge Adams, who among other reasons, still has a minor daughter to consider, chooses to involve the media as little as possible whilst personal family matters are sorted through. The public may ponder what consideration Hillary Adams gave her little sister before subjecting the entire family to world-wide microscopic scrutiny, and permanent consequences.

    It is Judge Adams' civic responsibility to respond to whatever investigations may result from a revelation of the disciplinary actions resorted to by his former wife and him on the viral video. Those investigations will require answers to many questions raised by the media and public and for which no appropriate forum has been chosen to date. He is confident the process will be managed in accordance with the law. For the sake of his family, co-workers, and Aransas County officials who must endure the additional work and expense, he wishes that the process not be played out daily on a national stage.

Ex-wife calls Texas judge in beating video addict

The ex-wife of a Texas judge who was captured on video brutally beating his teenage daughter blames the regular attacks on an addiction and says he brainwashed her into compliance.

In a Thursday interview on NBC's "Today" show, Hallie Adams called Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams' addiction a "family secret," but did not elaborate. Their 22-year marriage ended in 2007.

In the 8-minute video that their then-16-year-old daughter Hillary secretly videoed in 2004, the judge lashes the girl with a belt more than a dozen times. Hallie Adams, who is also seen spanking the teen, says her ex "completely brainwashed and controlled" her.

Police in Rockport, where the 51-year-old judge lives, are investigating whether any crime was committed.

County official casts doubt on judge's recovery

The top administrator in a Texas Gulf coast county has cast doubt on a judge's ability to return to the bench after an internet video showed him giving a brutal beating to his teenage daughter with a belt.

Aransas County's top elected official, C.H. "Burt" Mills Jr., says that even if criminal charges are not brought against County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams "I would think it would be very difficult (for him to return). Personally I don't see how he can recover from this."

Mills says a visiting judge will hear Adams' cases related to Child Protective Services for the next two weeks and it will be awhile before Adams sits on the bench.

Hillary Adams, the judge's daughter, recently put the video of the 2004 beating on the internet.

Judge's daughter: I hope video makes dad get help

Hillary Adams says that until last week, only a couple of close friends knew about the savage beating she received seven years ago from her father, a Texas judge who handles child abuse cases.

Now the beating is on display to the world on YouTube thanks to a secret video she made, and her father, Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, is the subject of a police investigation.

Hillary Adams, 23, says the outpouring of support and encouragement she's received since posting the 2004 video online last week is tempered by the sadness that it's her father lashing her 17 times with a belt and threatening to beat her "into submission." The 8-minute video had been watched nearly 2 million times by Thursday morning.

"I'm experiencing some regret because I just pulled the covers off my own father's misbehavior 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, near Corpus Christi.

"He's supposed to be a judge who exercises fit judgment," she said.

And she said the videoed attack was not a one-off. "It did happen regularly for a period of time," she told NBC's "Today" show on Thursday.

In the same 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.

The judge did not return an AP reporter's call seeking comment early Thursday.

Police in Rockport, where the 51-year-old judge lives, opened an investigation Wednesday after receiving calls from several concerned citizens, Police Chief Tim Jayroe said. William Adams has been receiving threatening phone calls and faxes at the courthouse since the video went online, Aransas County Sheriff Bill Mills said.

No one answered the door Wednesday at the judge's home, repeated calls to his office rang unanswered and his attorney, William Dudley, did not respond to phone messages seeking comment. A neighbor said she saw Adams and his girlfriend packing luggage, a briefcase and rifles into their truck.

Corpus Christi television station KZTV caught up with the judge while he was getting into his vehicle Wednesday, and he confirmed it was him in the video. But he said it "looks worse than it is" and that he doesn't expect to be disciplined.

"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 apologized."

When told of her father's comments, Hillary Adams said, "it's a shining perfect example of his personality and he believes he can do no wrong. ... He will cover up rather than admit to what he did and try to come clean."

She stressed that she did not post the video as revenge and does not want her father punished. Rather, she did it because she thinks it will force him to seek help, and because he has been harassing her and she thought posting the clip would make that stop.

"We need to reach out to victims and the abusers themselves to get people to realize what it actually is," she said.

Hillary, who was 16 at the time, said she secretly videotaped the beating in her bedroom because she "knew something was about to happen." She says her parents were angry at her for using her computer to download pirated content over the Internet.

In the clip's opening seconds, William Adams is heard telling Hillary's mother, "Go get the belt. The big one. I'm going to spank her now." With belt in hand, he turns off the light and tries forcing his daughter to bend over the bed to be beaten, but she refuses.

"Lay down or I'll spank you in your (expletive) face," Adams screams while he lashes her with sweeping blows across the legs, ignoring her wails and pleas for him to stop.

A few minutes into the video, Hillary's mother barks at her to "turn over like a 16-year-old and take it! Like a grown woman!" For about a minute, the ordeal appears to have ended after both parents leave the room and shut the door. But the judge then storms back into the room and the beating resumes.

Hallie Adams said she was "completely brainwashed and controlled" by her ex-husband.

"I did every single thing that he did," she told NBC. Hillary Adams said she is not angry at her mother.

Child advocates roundly condemned the beating as abuse. But investigators may decide that the judge's actions, while shocking, weren't criminal.

The lines between what's deemed child abuse and what's considered an acceptable level of discipline differ across the country and among various social groups, though the use of objects such as belts and sticks is usually seen as beyond any normal physical punishment, said David Finkelhor, a University of New Hampshire sociology professor who heads the school's Crimes against Children Research Center.

Jim Hopper, a clinical instructor in psychology at Harvard Medical School and a child abuse expert, said there is no doubt that the judge crossed the line.

"This is an act of brutal violence," Hopper said. "To beat someone into submission is not discipline. To beat a child into submission makes it harder for that child to take in rules and the values that the parent believes they are imposing on the child."

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.

Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the state Department of Family and Protective Services, said in an email that the agency is aware of the video and "will take the appropriate steps in this matter." He said the agency would have no further comment.

Hillary said she waited seven years to post the video because she didn't know what would have happened to her, her younger sister and mother had she posted it just after it happened.

"If this had blown up when I was a minor who knows where I would be. I wouldn't be able to escape."

While Hillary is close with her mother, she suspects the video will only further alienate her from her father's side of the family. Still, she says she believes it was the right thing to do.

"I'm very relieved that these things have been brought to light and not because I want to see my father burn or anything like that. That's a hideous way of thinking and I don't want to inflict that upon him," she said. "I cannot stress enough -- I cannot repeat myself enough, that he just needs help."

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