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Ark. Judge Accused of Trading Nudes for Lighter Sentences Resigns

Ark. Judge Accused of Trading Nudes for Lighter Sentences Resigns

Former Arkansas District Judge Joseph Boeckmann
Former Arkansas District Judge Joseph Boeckmann

Judge Joseph Boeckmann reportedly asked white male defendants to pose naked at his home or be spanked on camera.

An Arkansas judge has resigned in the face of allegations that he gave reduced sentences to white male defendants in exchange for sexual favors.

Joseph Boeckmann, who served on the Cross County District Court in Wynne, has been accused by an ethics panel of a pattern of sexual abuse "going back at least 30 years to his time as a prosecutor," according to the The Washington Post. Boeckmann was elected to the bench in 2009, after which point the panel alleges that the judge used his position of authority to coerce young men into taking nude photographs for him, while contracting others for "community service" at his home.

"He's a criminal predator who used his judicial power to feed his corrupt desires," David Sachar, the executive director of the state's Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, told CBS News. "Every minute he served as a judge was an insult to the Arkansas Judiciary."

Boeckmann didn't admit to the charges levied against him, but in his resignation letter, the judge promised to retire from the public sector. "I further promise to never seek employment as a local, county or state employee or public servant in the State of Arkansas," he wrote.

In total, 68 victims came forward, according to the American Bar Association's ABA Journal. In November, the judicial commission filed an official report detailing his history of misconduct. Investigators claimed that during court proceedings, Boeckmann would provide young Caucasian defendants -- nearly all of whom were between the ages of 18 and 25 -- with his number written on a piece of paper. He would then explain that there were other ways to work off punishment for their crime.

After these men came to his home, the complaint states that Boeckmann would ask them to model for him. One such defendant was "offered ... $300 to pose nude in the same position as Michelangelo's statue of David," the ABAJournal reports. Others were asked to masturbate or submit to a spanking on camera.

According to the report, additional photos included snapshots of "buttocks of the men as they were bending [over] to retrieve ... garbage," while they were engaged in cleanup tasks or doing yard work at the judge's house. Investigators said that "Boeckmann maintained these photographs of male litigants' buttocks in his home for his own personal use." Investigators also believe that the judge is in possession of child pornography, as The Daily Beast reports.

Boeckmann particularly preyed on the vulnerable, including those who "needed financial help or who were afraid of losing their children or jobs," reports the Associated Press. One complainant told the ethics board that he appeared before Boeckmann during a custody dispute. "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," according to the AP. "The judge then handcuffed him and took pictures of him naked in various positions."

In many cases, the impropriety didn't end with a single incident. The complaint alleges that Boeckmann maintained an "intimate, sexual relationship" with Anthony Avellino, a defendant in his court. The exchange of services included not only reduced sentencing but cash and luxury goods -- like new cars and a private boat. Boeckmann allegedly even paid Avellino's rent.

Others claimed that when the judge refused their advances, Boeckmann retaliated against them. In 2014, an unidentified source told Memphis TV station WREG that he was arrested for an outstanding warrant on an unpaid speeding ticket and thrown into the Cross County lockup for the night. While in holding, the man received a personal note from Boeckmann inviting the inmate to "spend time with him." Sensing that the invite was a sexual advance, he claims that he refused the offer.

The following day in court, the man further alleges, the judge was inappropriately harsh, giving him additional sentencing for no reason. "I'm going to charge you $500 and an extra night in jail, and you go back there and tell your buddies how I feel about it," the judge reportedly said. The source explained to WREG that he "kept quiet [about the incident] like so many others, because of the judge's power."

According to the complaint, these offers did not extend to men of color, who were singled out for harsh sentencing. "Boeckmann overlooks nonpayment of fines and costs for young men he has personal relationships with, but patronizes, yells and screams at those litigants who are minority or female," the statement reads.

At press time, there are no indications as to whether Boeckmann will face criminal charges for his actions.

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