LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — An Arkansas judge resigned Monday after new allegations surfaced that he used his authority for the last 30 years to sexually prey on young men charged with crimes who needed financial help or who were afraid of losing their children or jobs.
Part-time Cross County District Judge Joe Boeckmann resigned after a state judicial commission presented him with new allegations, including one case when a man said he was taken to a courtroom, told to strip naked and photographed in handcuffs. Allegations were made public last year that Boeckmann had engaged in inappropriate sexual relationships including photographing and paddling defendants in exchange for lighter sentences.
Documents detailing the new allegations were provided to The Associated Press by the commission under an open records request.
"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," said David Sachar, executive director of the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, which had been investigating to determine if the judge should be sanctioned or kicked off the bench.
The former judge has not been charged with a crime.
Sachar said Monday that he 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.
Boeckmann had previously denied the allegations against him. But in his resignation letter dated Monday, he agreed never to work in public service again.
"I further promise to never seek employment as a local, county or state employee or public servant in the State of Arkansas." he wrote.
Jeff Rosenzweig, Boeckmann's attorney, said he will not make any further comments.
The documents show that investigators found thousands of photos on Boeckmann's home computers of naked and semi-naked men, many of whom were identified by the commission as former defendants whose cases had gone before Boeckmann both as a judge and as a deputy prosecutor. Sachar wrote in a May 3 letter that Boeckmann still had the opportunity to resign before those allegations were added to the complaint.
Sachar also wrote that the commission planned to file a subpoena asking Boeckmann to turn over a paddle used to spank several of the young men and seen in many of the photographs.
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.