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Family Judge Sets Example

November 2, 2011 permalink

A video posted to YouTube shows Texas family judge William Adams beating his own teenaged daughter with a belt. The incident occurred in 2004 when she was sixteen years old. The daughter, Hillary Adams, posted it to block the judge's reelection next week.

The video is on YouTube and a local copy (mp4). The YouTube blurb is immediately below. An enclosed article from Forbes gives the circumstances, and assures us the video is not a hoax.

Uploaded by shoehedgie on Oct 27, 2011

2004: Aransas County Court-At-Law Judge William Adams took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time. She has had ataxic cerebral palsy from birth that led her to a passion for technology, which was strictly forbidden by her father's backwards views. The judge's wife was emotionally abused herself and was severely manipulated into assisting the beating and should not be blamed for any content in this video. The judge's wife has since left the marriage due to the abuse, which continues to this day, and has sincerely apologized and repented for her part and for allowing such a thing, long before this video was even revealed to exist. Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can't even exercise fit judgement as a parent himself. Do not allow this man to ever be re-elected again. His "judgement" is a giant farce.

Signed, Hillary Adams, his daughter.



On Judge William Adams Beating His Daughter and Internet Revenge

Hillary Adams
Hillary Adams posted a video she made in 2004 of her father beating her with a belt

They say revenge is best served cold. In the case of Hillary Adams, a Texas woman who recently posted a very disturbing video of her father violently beating her, the revenge nearly has freezer burn.

The video was made in 2004. She posted it last week on YouTube explaining that her father “took a belt to his own teenage daughter as punishment for using the internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time.” Her father is not just your average Texan. William Adams is a public figure, an Aransas County Court-at-Law judge. The video went viral after she posted it to Reddit, a site where users would be especially sympathetic to a judge’s corporal punishment for illegal downloading. Redditors launched a vigilante campaign, posting numbers for local law enforcement and media outlets (as well as pranking the judge by ordering pizzas to his home). From there, the video gained national attention within a day, from blogs as well as local media in Texas. The sheriff’s office is now launching an investigation.

Did I mention that the video is seven years old? Why post it now?

Well, Judge William Adams holds an elected office, and his daughter would prefer he not hold it. “Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can’t even exercise fit judgement as a parent himself,” she writes in the description of her video. “Do not allow this man to ever be re-elected again.”

A viral video of your beating your daughter with a belt has to be even worse for an office-holder than naked photos of what’s below that belt. Someone has already created a “Don’t Re-Elect Judge William Adams” Facebook page, which has attracted thousands of fans. Sorry, Facebookers. Aransas County does have an election coming up next week, but Adams’s term is not up this time around. He’s not up for re-election until three years from now, the county clerk’s office tells me. Of course, the public attention to this could well lead to his stepping down, though he tells a local news affiliate that the incident “happened years ago,” that he “apologized,” and that “it’s not as bad as it looks on tape.”

It does look pretty bad, especially to someone who grew up in a household that frowned even on spanking. (The video makes me wonder if other children who suffer violence at home could use the tool of public shame to help them, or if this one caught on solely because it involved a public figure.)

The power of video here is fairly incredible. Had Hillary Adams, now in her 20s, suddenly stepped forward and said her father beat her as a child, it likely wouldn’t get much traction. But the video places the incident in the here and now, almost making the seven years that have elapsed insignificant. Adams surely couldn’t have imagined that a punishment of his daughter in the privacy of his home could come back to haunt him professionally years later.

Update: Adams is now tweeting that she feels “some regret” for publishing the video and ruining her father.

The delay in publishing the video reminded me of a story I wrote about a year ago that involved a Harvard Law student who discussed in a private e-mail the possibility that intelligence is linked to genetics, and thus race. Her then-friend saved that email (as most of us do), and a year later, when their friendship soured, sent the email out to a few people, including a member of Harvard’s Black Student Association. As with Hillary Adams, the Harvard frenemy knew the right audience to take her smoking gun to in order to ensure it get widespread attention. The e-mail very quickly went viral, and the law student’s name will probably be linked to “racist” in Google search results for the rest of her life.

Of course, as Herman Cain could well attest, it’s always been the case for high-profile people such as presidential candidates to have things from their past come back to haunt them, even without any digital evidence. But that’s because these folks are at the center of tons of media attention. Now, even if you’re not a media figure, the past can come back at you fast and furious if there’s a video, recording, or email that can easily be passed around online.

Source: Forbes

Addendum: The most pathetic headline on this story is: Dad caught on video beating daughter 'needs help'. It's right out of the enclosed social worker joke.



Two social workers were walking through a rough part of the city in the evening. They heard moans and muted cries for help from a back lane. Upon investigation, they found a semi-conscious man in a pool of blood. "Help me, I've been mugged and viciously beaten" he pleaded.

The two social workers turned and walked away. One remarked to her colleague: "You know the person that did this really needs help."

Addendum: The judge is reinstated a year later.



Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge Adams reinstated

Court lifts suspension after investigation of child beating video

William Adams
MICHAEL ZAMORA/CALLER-TIMES ARCHIVE The Texas Supreme Court lifted the suspension of Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams. He was suspended last November following release of a video showing him beating his daughter. The State Commission on Judicial Conduct issued him a public warning.
Photo by Michael Zamora, Corpus Christi Caller-Times

ARANSAS COUNTY — The Texas Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted the suspension of the judge whose video-recorded beating of his daughter focused uproar on Aransas County a year ago.

William Adams, who as a family law judge hears child abuse cases, went on paid suspension in November after his daughter uploaded a secretly recorded YouTube video showing the judge whipping her with a belt seven years earlier, when she was 16.

The video depicts the judge and, at one point, the girl’s mother, striking her more than a dozen times while issuing an obscenity-laced tirade and threats of further harm.

Adams agreed to a paid suspension while the State Commission on Judicial Conduct investigated. Judicial suspensions typically are lifted soon after the commission issues a censure, unless the censure includes a recommendation that the judge be removed from the bench.

In September, the commission issued a public warning to Adams, finding the video cast doubt on his ability to be impartial. It also warned the judge against a pattern of demeaning behavior toward attorneys in his court.

Adams has not commented on the warning and he could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

It is unclear when Adams will return to the bench. At the Aransas County courthouse, officials have prepared for his return by beefing up security. In the days after the video went viral, county offices were besieged by hundreds of phone calls and emails, many of them threatening, urging the county to dismiss the judge. But under state law, county officials have no control over the employment and little control over the salary of an elected judge. Adams’ term runs through 2014. He has received about a year’s salary and allowances while on suspension, roughly $150,000.

Another major change when Adams returns: He won’t be hearing some cases brought by the Texas Department of Family and Protective services, which investigates allegations of child abuse.

Agency Commissioner Howard Baldwin told County Attorney Richard Bianchi in a letter that the department does not believe Adams can serve in the best interest of children and parents in abuse or neglect cases. Baldwin initially asked that all of the agency’s cases be shifted to a district court.

Bianchi said the agency since has modified its request to apply only to cases involving violence with children. Those cases will be filed in district court, Bianchi said. The agency has indicated its lawyers will try to move similar cases now in Adams’ court to a district court, he said.

Of 15 local attorneys who practiced in Adams’ court and who testified before the Commission on Judicial Conduct, six said he could no longer be effective because the video created the public perception that he could not be fair in cases of family violence, child abuse or assault. Another six supported his return to the bench and, according to the commission, all 15 praised Adams for his fairness, impartiality and knowledge of the law.

Lawyers also told the commission it’s likely criminal defense attorneys would file motions to recuse the judge if he returns to the bench. That potentially could slow the progress of court cases.

A public sanction of any kind is unusual. More than 4,000 complaints against judges were filed with the commission from 2008 to 2011, and 73 public sanctions were issued. A warning is one step short of a reprimand, which would have prevented Adams from serving as a visiting judge after he retires, denying a lasting source of income.

Although police and prosecutors reviewed the Adams video, they did not pursue criminal charges, citing statutes of limitation.

Adams has downplayed the video as a ploy by a conniving ex-wife embroiled in a custody battle and a vengeful daughter cut off from his finances. He said they capitalized on him losing his temper after his daughter illegally downloaded music. The daughter, Hillary Adams, and her mother, Hallie Adams, have reconciled and said they hoped the video would force the judge to confront an abusive past.

Hallie Adams continues her efforts to have the judge sanctioned. She has delivered her own complaints to the Commission on Judicial Conduct, saying his behavior during and after their marriage shows he is unfit to be a judge. The couple remains in a legal dispute over their youngest daughter.

Source: Corpus Christi Caller-Times

Addendum: When voters got their say in 2014 judge Adams was removed.



ROCKPORT — A South Texas family law judge seen beating his then-16-year-old daughter in a video she posted online in 2011 has lost his re-election bid.

Unofficial returns show Aransas County voters on Tuesday rejected William Adams in the Republican primary.

The Corpus Christi Caller-Times reports County Attorney Richard Bianchi joins the bench in January. No Democrats challenged Adams, who sought a fourth full term.

The video shows Adams lashing his daughter. Hillary Adams has said she released the video, which she secretly taped in 2004, to compel her father to get help and show he's unfit as a judge. She said the beating happened after she illegally downloaded files from the Internet.

William Adams was suspended for a year. The Texas Supreme Court in November 2012 lifted his suspension.

Source: Fort Bend Herald