A 77-year-old Georgia judge for years asked women for sexual favors and cash in exchange for lighter charges or sentences, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.
Bobby Joe Smith, who presided over county cases in the riverside town of Hartwell, is charged with one count of bribery and three counts of civil-rights violations in a federal indictment filed Thursday in the Middle District of Georgia.
One woman “met with Smith on multiple occasions in judicial chambers,” where he told her that she would be on “private probation” with him and that he required “cash payments,” the indictment claims.
Over the course of these meetings, he kissed her, groped her, and—while she was holding her young niece—put his hand down her pants and “made contact with her vagina,” according to the court records. After these interactions, Smith reduced the charges against her, the indictment states.
Another woman, who was facing a driving under the influence charge, repeatedly went to Smith’s office to check on her blood-test results. He allegedly told her “it sometimes takes a year for the tests to be completed due to the laboratory being backed up.”
During these meetings, Smith kissed her and groped her, and “at least once, he attempted to put his hand underneath her shirt,” according to the indictment. “On at least one other occasion, Smith exposed his penis to [her] and attempted to pull [her] hand down to touch his genitals,” the complaint says. She pulled her hand away and resisted these attempts, according to the document.
“During these meetings, Smith locked the door to his judicial chambers, and sometimes Smith also blocked [her] from getting to the door,” the indictment says.
Another woman, who was facing a speeding ticket, asked for the judge’s help getting her charge reduced, and he called a different court, telling the clerk that she was his granddaughter, prosecutors allege.
Afterward, when the woman was leaving his office, he allegedly kissed her on the lips and tried to touch her breast. She pulled away, but he tightened his arm around her, the indictment claims. She allegedly said “no” and was able to escape his advances. She never returned to his office.
Her speeding ticket was later resolved by another judge.
“None of these three women consented to Smith’s sexual advances,” said a Justice Department press release.
Smith will appear in court on April 25.