ROCKPORT, Texas – Police launched an investigation Wednesday into an online video that shows a Texas family law judge profanely berating and repeatedly lashing his 16-year-old daughter with a belt.
The nearly 8-minute video, which has been viewed more than 600,000 times on YouTube since being uploaded last week, shows Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams violently whipping a girl in the legs more than dozen times and growing increasingly irate while she screams and refuses to turn over on a bed to be beaten.
"Lay down or I'll spank you in your (expletive) face," Adams screams. The girl wails and pleads for him to stop.
The person who uploaded the video on YouTube signs the post as Hillary Adams, the judge's daughter and the target of the beating. The post says the video was filmed in 2004.
Hillary Adams did not respond to messages from The Associated Press via email and Twitter on Wednesday, and efforts to reach her by phone were not immediately successful.
But her father, during an on-camera interview with Corpus Christi television station KZTV on Wednesday, acknowledged it was him in the video and said it happened several years ago and that he has since apologized to his daughter. He said the footage "looks worse than it is," and that he was simply disciplining his daughter for stealing.
Sheriff Bill Mills said Wednesday that William Adams, a family law judge who handles child abuse cases, has disconnected his phone because of threatening calls and faxes after the video went viral. Mills said Adams told him he did not plan to go to his office at the courthouse Wednesday.
No one answered the door at William Adams' home on Wednesday, and calls to his office rang unanswered. A secretary for the judge's attorney, William Dudley, said Wednesday that Dudley was unavailable to comment.
Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe said calls from people who saw the video prompted the investigation. Jayroe said he has not been able to determine the identities of the people in the video nor whether any crimes were committed.
Jayroe said he has asked the Texas Rangers, the state's top investigators, for help in the investigation.
The beating appears to take place in a bedroom and the man is apparently unaware that he's being filmed.
"Go get the belt. The big one. I'm going to spank her now," the man says in the clip's opening seconds.
A few minutes into the video, a woman appears and barks at the girl to "turn over like a 16-year-old and take it! Like a grown woman!" The ordeal then appears to be over for about a minute when both adults leave the room and shut the door, but then the man returns and the beating resumes.
Aransas County District Attorney Patrick Flanigan said he was not aware of any complaints against Adams and said he did not know if it was the judge in the video.
Toward the end of the video, the man shouts that he plans to beat the girl "into submission" and rants about having a computer in the house and the problems it causes.
The girl does not appear to be seriously injured, and at the end of the video the adult woman tells her to leave the room and sleep on a sofa.
Heidgerd reported from Dallas. Associated Press Writers Danny Robbins in Dallas and Paul J. Weber in San Antonio contributed to this report.