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INJUSTICE

An Arkansas judge resigned after being accused of exchanging lighter sentences for sexual favors

Reuters/Chip East
A miscarriage of justice.
By Hanna Kozlowska
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

A judge in Arkansas has resigned after a state commission uncovered nude photos of male defendants on his computer. Several men, including one minor, allege that the judge offered reduced sentences to poor young men who had committed minor crimes in exchange for various sexual favors. The allegations go back as far as 30 years, including a period of time when he served as a deputy prosecutor.

According to complaints in the commission’s files, the judge, Joseph Boeckmann, told one man involved in a child custody case to take off his clothes and bend over while he was handcuffed in an Arkansas courtroom, as he took photographs. Another complainant said he had a “sexual relationship” with the judge, who gave him extensions on paying off his fines.

The commission says it is in the process of recovering 4,500 pictures from Boeckmann’s computer. Many of them appear to be taken inside the judge’s home, or on his property, local media has reported. Defendants said he would tell them to come to his house for “community service,” where he would tell them to pose for him and sometimes use a paddle to spank them.

In one case, the documents allege, Boeckmann ordered a man whose traffic violation he had reduced to bring three bags of cans to his home. The man says he was ordered to take cans out of the bags and to bend over suggestively, as if he were picking them up. Boeckmann reportedly said the photographs were used to “to corroborate participation in community service.” Investigators also found checks written from Boeckmann’s accounts to pay court fines and attorney fees for the defendants.

The judge has not been charged with a crime, but the documents were turned over to state police, a special prosecutor and federal authorities. In Boeckmann’s letter of resignation, he promised not to ever seek employment as a state or local employee.

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