A judge charged with giving inmates reduced sentences in return for sex faces a possible life sentence.
The judge denies the charges, saying he is the victim of a racist “lynching,” and was merely “mentoring” the inmates.
The 48-year-old former Alabama judge, Herman Thomas, is accused of a wide variety of offences relating to sex with male inmates under his authority, including sodomy, sexual abuse, assault, kidnapping and extortion.
15 current and former inmates are set to testify against him; in total he faces 57 inmate sex charges.
He met the inmates, including a convicted murderer, privately during which times they claim they were abused. The judge asserts he was merely “mentoring” them.
He is supposed to have granted lenient treatment to the inmates who “consented” to have sex with him.
The charges stem from his 2007 resignation after being accused of spanking inmates with a paddle at his courthouse office.
“Once inside the room, according to the sources, the judge would ask the young men to drop their pants and prepare to be spanked with what they described as a wooden or fraternity-like paddle.”
Racial politics have been brought to the forefront of the case; the judge was picked by Democrats to be the first black federal judge in Alabama, and is claiming he is the victim of “a high-tech lynching” orchestrated by Republicans, with his defence says the charges are because his opponents “don’t like uppity black folks.”
“Did you ever think of the fact that this is the only black circuit judge we’ve ever had in Mobile County and that the right-wing Republicans have gotten rid of him?”
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People asserts he is being persecuted because of his race, and his patrons in the Democratic Party are expressing astonishment at the charges.
He has already been stripped of his license and his trial is set to begin shortly; courts released him on bail of $287,500. If convicted, he could face a life sentence.
Via the BBC.