Arkansas judge accused of trading sentence reductions for sex resigns

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. An Arkansas judge accused by a state panel of trading sentence reductions for sex with young defendants has resigned, legal documents released on Monday showed.

Joseph Boeckmann of state district court in Wynne, Arkansas, was suspended over the scandal in November by the Arkansas Supreme Court, which has jurisdiction over the state’s lower courts.

He was accused of issuing “substitutionary sentences” to certain defendants, and offering sentence reductions or dismissals to others, all allegedly to entice them into sexual relations.

The Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission, charged with overseeing judges, said in the documents made public on Monday that it had recovered more than 1,000 images of nude or semi-nude young men from the judge’s home computer.

Many of the men were photographed at the judge’s home, the commission said, adding it anticipated uncovering more than 3,000 similar pictures.

In his letter of resignation, provided by the commission, Boeckmann vowed to never again “seek employment as a local, county or state employee or public servant in the state of Arkansas.” The resignation was effective as of Monday, it said.

In December, an attorney for Boeckmann said he denied the allegations against him. Boeckmann could not be reached for comment.

In a letter to Boeckmann’s attorney, the commission’s director, David Sachar, said investigators had uncovered “numerous photos of naked young men from behind bending over after an apparent paddling. The paddle appears in photographs and has been identified by witnesses as belonging to the judge.”

Sachar asked Boeckmann’s attorney to direct the judge not to destroy or dispose of the paddle.

Sachar said authorities have identified some of the men and are attempting to identify others. 

The commission said it also had documented cash payments from the judge to some of the young men.

Other documents unsealed on Monday included statements to the commission by individuals claiming that Boeckmann’s alleged misconduct began more than 30 years ago when they were juveniles and he was a state deputy prosecutor.

Boeckmann’s resignation concludes administrative action by the state. State and federal police agencies are reviewing the allegations for possible criminal prosecution.

(Reporting by Steve Barnes; Editing by Tom Brown)

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