Arkansas judge steps down after allegations of sexual misconduct

By ANDREW DeMILLO The Associated Press
This article was published January 4, 2017 at 4:00 a.m.

LITTLE ROCK -- An Arkansas judge has left office and agreed to never serve on the bench again after a disciplinary panel threatened to administratively charge him with trading sexual favors with female defendants in exchange for their release.

The case marks the second time in a little over a year that an Arkansas judge has faced sexual misconduct accusations.

Carroll County District Court Judge Timothy Parker denied the sexual misconduct charges when he resigned Saturday on the last day of his current term in office, the Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission said Tuesday. The panel said Parker admitted to releasing and lowering bail for defendants who were friends or former clients and, in some cases, giving rides to defendants in his own vehicle after he released them.

Parker, who was appointed to the judgeship in 2013, also faces a criminal investigation over the accusations. Jason Barrett, a special prosecutor appointed to investigate the case, said Tuesday that he was reviewing JDDC's evidence to see if charges were warranted.

The panel said it had video statements from more than a dozen women, recordings of conversations Parker had in jail with women, as well as text messages that back up the allegations. The allegations were outlined in a letter, made public Tuesday, that the board sent to Parker.

"Bonds would be set, or release of the women on their own recognizance was ordered by going to the jail or via telephone. The bonds or release of these women or their family or friends were done by their request in exchange for sexual favors," David Sachar, the panel's executive director, said in the letter dated Saturday.

Parker denied the sexual favor allegations when contacted by The Associated Press Tuesday. Asked why he didn't contest the allegations before the panel, he responded: "I have young children and I don't want them exposed to that kind of crap."

Parker's resignation comes just months after another former Arkansas judge was charged with giving lighter sentences to defendants in exchange for sexual favors. Former Cross County District Court Judge Joseph Boeckmann was indicted in October on several federal charges, including wire fraud and witness tampering.

Boeckmann resigned in May after a JDDC investigation. The commission's investigators found thousands of photos on Boeckmann's home computers of naked and semi-naked men, many of whom were identified by the commission as former defendants whose cases had gone before Boeckmann both as a judge and as a deputy prosecutor.

Former Gov. Mike Beebe appointed Parker to the part-time judgeship in 2013. Parker told a local newspaper at the time that he wanted to look into using community service for misdemeanor offenders.

State Desk on 01/04/2017
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