ROCKPORT, Texas – A Texas judge seen viciously beating his then-teenage daughter in a video she posted online last year returned to the bench Wednesday after a yearlong suspension.
William Adams, the top judge in coastal Texas' Aransas County, worked through a normal docket of juvenile cases, divorces and estate settlements on his first day back. He said nothing to address the incident that kept him off the bench for a year, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported.
The Texas Supreme Court last week lifted Adams' suspension, during which he collected his $150,000 salary. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued Adams a public warning in September.
Adams dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the year before his suspension, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking to determine whether parents were fit to raise their children. The state will no longer file physical abuse cases in his court, but most of the state cases had to do with neglect or poor living environments, according to the district clerk.
The nearly 8-minute video was viewed millions of time on the Internet. In it, Adams is seen lashing his then-16-year-old daughter Hillary on her legs more than a dozen times and growing increasingly irate while she screams and refuses to turn over on a bed to be beaten. At one point the father screams: "Lay down or I'll spank you in your (expletive) face."
Hillary Adams said she released the video, which she secretly taped in 2004, hoping it would compel her father to get help. She said the beating came because she had illegally downloaded digital files on the Internet.
After the video was released, Adams said his daughter posted the clip to get back at him for telling her he would be reducing the amount of financial support he gave her and taking away her Mercedes. A day earlier, he had told a television station that the video looked worse than it was.
Hillary Adams and her mother, Hallie Adams, who is also seen hitting Hillary in the video, have said William Adams is not fit to return to the bench. The local district attorney said too much time had passed to bring charges against William Adams.
The courthouse's switchboard had received some angry calls and emails about Adams, but county officials have said all along that the situation was out of their hands. Adams is an elected official with a term running through 2014. County commissioners voted to slightly lower his salary — he earned about $150,000 during his suspension — but there was little else they could do.
The Corpus Christi newspaper also reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/SW9Ai6 ) that it appeared to be business as usual in Adams' courtroom. Security has been stepped up in response to threats received following the release of the video, including visitors now being required to pass through metal detectors to enter the building.
Information from: Corpus Christi Caller-Times, http://www.caller.com