The prosecution rests in the trial of former Alabama Circuit Court Judge Herman Thomas, who is accused of exchanging leniency for sexual acts such as paddling, masturbation and oral sex. The former Mobile County judge at one point faced more than 100 criminal counts, including kidnapping, sexual abuse, extortion and sodomy. Prosecutors dismissed some cases and others were thrown out by a judge because the statute of limitations expired.
There are now 11 alleged victims and 52 counts, WKRG-TV reports. In the past week, eight victims told of being spanked with belts, a Kappa Alpha Psi paddle, and of being spanked by Thomas at a fraternity house. One victim previously told Mobile police that Thomas forced him to masturbate but refused to say this on the witness stand, reports the Mobile Press-Register.
The man is one of two alleged victims whose semen was found by
investigators in that office on the eighth floor, according to earlier
testimony. Last week, the other alleged victim testified that Thomas asked him to masturbate inside the office. On Monday, Special Judge Claud Neilson sent the jury out of the
courtroom after prosecutors tried to introduce into evidence a
transcript of an FBI interview with the 26-year-old man earlier this
year. The transcript stated that the man had previously told Mobile police that Thomas forced him to masturbate, prosecutors said. Neilson ruled that the transcript could not be heard or seen by the jury.
The man testified Monday that Thomas beat him on his bare buttocks inside a jury room, in the small office and at a fraternity house in Mobile after meeting the judge in 2000. During one of the beatings, the man said, he turned around and saw Thomas with an erection in his pants. "I don't like being here," the man said from the witness stand. "I'm just here to testify the truth."
The trial also revealed one of the alleged victims was the son of an influential black state senator, Vivian Davis Figures, who allegedly asked the judge to intervene in her son's drug case.
The defense began its case yesterday. One of the character witnesses admits she gave Thomas permission to paddle her nephew, who was in and out of jail on drug charges, WKRG reports. The mother of another witness says she gave Thomas permission to paddle her grown son, adds Black Independent, an Alabama-based blog following the case. Defense attorney Bob Clark said Wednesday morning he planned to rest their case this afternoon.
Herman Thomas was once the Democratic Party's choice to be the first black federal judge in south Alabama. The now-disgraced judge was considered "tough" on crime and is married with two teen-aged daughters. He denies being gay or bisexual.
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