Criminal Justice

Ex-Judge Accused of Paddling Prisoners is Acquitted on All Counts

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Updated: After three days of deliberations, a former Alabama judge accused of abusing his authority and seeking “sexual jollies” by paddling male prisoners has been found not guilty.

A jury determined that former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas was not guilty of seven counts, and Judge Claud Neilson then threw out another 14 charges that the jury could not reach a consensus on, reports the Associated Press.

Thomas, 48, faced more than 20 felony charges in the Mobile County Circuit case, including sodomy, sex abuse and assault, the Press-Register reported earlier. Some of the claimed attacks allegedly took place in Thomas’ chambers, where DNA evidence was found matching two of his 11 accusers, prosecutors contended.

However, attorney Robert “Cowboy Bob” Clark, who defended Thomas, criticized the aggressive prosecution and argued that the jury shouldn’t convict his client based on the word of the 11 convicted felons who testified against Thomas.

“Which one of these convicted felons do you want to rely on beyond a reasonable doubt?” Clark asked the jury, rhetorically, during the trial. “There’s not a single one of them who is here for singing too loud in church.”

Neilson earlier dismissed kidnapping, extortion and ethics charges against Thomas. If convicted, he could have been sentenced to a prison term of 10 years or more.

Hat tip: Birmingham News.

Earlier coverage: “Former Alabama Judge Charged in Inmate Sex-Abuse Case” (2007): “Judge Accused of Spanking Inmates Resigns”

Updated at 2:53 p.m. to include and accord with subsequent Associated Press article about Thomas’ acquittal.

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