Judge Swapped Sex and Pills for Freedom
For four years, an Arkansas judge allegedly offered a secret plea deal to women who appeared in his court: have sex with him and get out of jail free.
Judge Tim Parker of Carroll County, Arkansas, resigned in the final days of term last month, after an Arkansas judicial oversight group accused him of letting women out of jail without bond, or trading them cash or prescription pills, in exchange for sexual favors. Parker allegedly conducted his business over jail phones, calling women behind bars, or requesting favors from their family and friends. In other cases, Parker allegedly freed women he had represented in his private practice, where he worked part-time as a lawyer in addition to being a judge.
From 2013 to 2016, Parker “engaged in a pattern of personal relationships with many female litigants,” a letter of removal from the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission alleges.
After women made their initial appearances in court, Parker would allegedly contact them in jail, or make an offer to their friends or family: in exchange for a low bail or release, they’d provide him with sexual favors. Parker allegedly continued to ply the women for favors even after they left jail.
“Allegations also exist about trading cash or prescription pills for sexual favors or money with many of the same women, as well as other women in the community,” the letter of removal claims.
According to the JDDC’s report, Parker denied trading lenient bonds and pills for sex, but stepped down from the office before their investigation could conclude. “You resigned before receiving the names and details from the disputed allegations, which, if you had received that information, may have allowed you to investigate and contradict the witness statements,” the JDDC wrote Parker.
The JDDC can remove judges, but does not have the authority to press criminal charges, although the group’s executive director, David Sachar, told The Daily Beast that Parker’s case had been referred to a special prosecutor. The terms of Parker’s resignation prohibit him from ever acting as a judge in Arkansas again.
“Our investigation is over because we only have jurisdiction over sanctions and we got the ultimate sanction,” Sachar said. “He’s never going to be a judge again.”
Contacted by The Daily Beast on Wednesday, Parker declined to comment on the allegations.
But the JDDC claimed to have video statements from over a dozen women accusing Parker of abuse. The group also claimed to have recordings of Parker’s conversations on jail phones, as well as his texts with women he allegedly pressured for sex.
But the JDDC said Parker confessed to other abuses of power including a 2013 case, when one of his friends was arrested and allegedly called him from jail, asking him to conduct her probable cause determination. Without disclosing his relationship with the woman, Parker allegedly drove to the jail in his official capacity as a judge and ordered the woman released without bail. After the woman’s release, he drove her home.
During his four-year term, Parker allegedly performed similar favors for friends and clients of his law firm, where he still worked part-time in addition to his duties as a judge. “You often went to, or called the jail personally to affect their prompt release,” the JDDC wrote. “In some cases, you gave rides to defendants in your own vehicle after they had just had their release secured by your rulings on their case.”
The allegations against Parker follow similar sexual misconduct charges against another Arkansas judge. Former judge Joseph Boeckmann was indicted in October, after dozens of men accused him of decades of sexual abuse. As a prosecutor and later as a judge, Boeckmann allegedly offered to pay legal fees or toss cases for men who would let him photograph them nude or spank them with a paddle.
Sachar said the similarities in Boeckmann’s case made it easy for the office to expedite an investigation into Parker.
“My office and staff is very hardworking and efficient and were able to work through this pretty quickly,” Sachar said of Parker’s case, which he began investigating after witnesses began coming forward in October, around the time of Boeckmann’s indictment. “We were like, does [Parker] not know we have the forms for this? Does he not know we can get his texts?”
Parker resigned at the end of his four-year term, without running for re-election. While his resignation means he may not serve as an Arkansas judge again, he had previously stated his intention to only serve one term.
“I am a small man with a small ego,” Parker told the Carroll County News in 2013 when he was first elected. “There is no room for ego on the bench. I plan to be a humble judge that follows the law. It’s justice with compassion.”
During the inaugural interview, Parker announced plans to create a kinder legal system, offering community service instead of fines for misdemeanor offenders.
“We are in hard economic time—it is hard for people to pay on fines and costs,” he said. “I want to use community service as a way for them to pay.”
Apparently his idea of community service may have been a little more self-serving.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if 2017 is a bad year for Tim Parker,” Sachar said.