An Arkansas judge accused of carrying on inappropriate sexual relationships with defendants for the past three decades resigned Monday after being notified that sexually explicit photos had been recovered from his computer.
Fox 16 reported that part-time Cross County District Judge Joe Boeckmann's resignation was effective immediately. In his resignation letter, Boeckmann vowed that he would "never seek employment as a local, county or state employee or public servant in the State of Arkansas."
According to documents seen by Fox 16, the state's Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission had notified Boeckmann that its investigators had identified defendants among the young men photographed posing nude inside and outside his home. The documents also alleged that Boeckmann had paid some of the men while they were appearing on his district court docket.
Further, the documents said the photos also showed evidence that some of the men had been paddled. The commission had planned to file a subpoena asking Boeckmann to turn over the paddle.
"He's a criminal predator who used his judicial power to feed his corrupt desires. Every minute he served as a judge was an insult to the Arkansas Judiciary," David Sachar, the commission's executive director, told the Associated Press.
The former judge has not been charged with a crime, though Sachar said he had turned parts of the information over to the Arkansas State Police, a special state prosecutor and federal authorities. He said since part of the allegations stretched to when Boeckmann was a private attorney and a deputy prosecutor, the commission will contact the Arkansas Judiciary's Committee on Professional Conduct to investigate— including allegations from at least one witness that Boeckmann tried to pay him not to speak with investigators.
Sachar said investigators also found hundreds of checks written from the judge's personal and professional accounts paying defense attorneys and court fines for defendants. He said the commission is considering whether to turn those records over to the Internal Revenue Service or the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration.
The panel alleges Boeckmann showed preferential treatment to white men and allowed sentencing not recorded on court dockets, including performing the task of picking up trash at his home. He's accused of coercing some of the men into sexual acts ranging from spanking to masturbating on camera in return for paying their attorney fees or forgiving their fines.
One man, whose name was withheld, said Boeckmann handled his case involving a child custody allegation.
The man told the commission that Boeckmann drove him to the Cross County Courthouse, took him into a courtroom and told him to strip naked. The judge then handcuffed him and took pictures of him naked in various positions, the man said.
The commission launched a more than yearlong investigation after an Arkansas Department of Human Services investigator lodged a complaint that the judge had not recused himself from a case involving a woman who is related to a man with whom Boeckmann allegedly had a long-term intimate relationship.
The commission previously admonished Boeckmann for not recusing himself from hearing cases involving people he had a personal relationship with.
The Arkansas Supreme Court appointed a special judge in November to hear Boeckmann's cases in the Wynne division of Cross County, about 100 miles northeast of Arkansas, during the investigation.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.