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Published: Tuesday, 11/8/2011

Unfit to judge

A Texas family-law judge no longer can be prosecuted for savagely beating his teenage daughter in 2004. But that doesn’t mean he should be immune from punishment for his brutal act.

Hillary Adams, who has cerebral palsy, was 16 when she set up a video camera in her bedroom because she’d been beaten before. Her father, Judge William Adams, was angry because she had illegally downloaded videos on her computer. With the hidden camera rolling, he delivered 20 hard hits with a belt as she screamed and pleaded for mercy.

Because the statute of limitations has expired, police say the judge cannot be charged with injuring a child or other assault-related crimes. He is relieved of his duties while a judicial conduct commission and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services investigate.

A family services agency also is involved. Although Ms. Adams and her mother no longer live with the judge, he has joint custody of a 10-year-old daughter.

It is unconscionable for any adult to assault a child, but the offense is even more egregious for a judge. In the past year alone, Judge Adams has handled nearly 50 cases in which he evaluated whether parents were fit to raise their children.

Since the video was posted on YouTube, questions have been raised about the judge’s rulings. Yet he remains unrepentant, telling a TV station that the video “looks worse than it is.”

One glance at the video proves him wrong. His claim that Ms. Adams is trying to get back at him for reducing her financial support is irrelevant.

Texas officials say they’ve been flooded with calls to remove Judge Adams from the bench. They should promptly comply. Anyone whose own conduct is so abhorrent must never again be in a position to sit in judgment of another family.



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