Monday, May 9, 2016

Wynne judge quits amid investigation of sexual impropriety

Posted By on Mon, May 9, 2016 at 12:32 PM

Joseph Boeckmann has resigned as a district judge in Cross County and agreed that he will never serve in public office again, the Arkansas Judicial Discipline and Disability Commission announced today.

Boeckmann has been under investigation for months for a broad series of allegations, including favorable treatment for young men defendants in court in return for sexual improprieties, particularly posing for suggestive photographs, sometimes nude and after paddling. He wrote checks to lawyers for the young men, had images on his computer and was accused of a variety of other misdealings in using his court for illict purposes.

David Sachar, executive director of the Commission, said it was the worst case of judicial misconduct the commission had seen because of serial abuse of his position over decades, beginning when he was a prosecutor.

A variety of agencies, including the State Police, the attorney general and a special prosecutor, had investigated the charges. 

UPDATE: A prepared statement from the prosecutor coordinator's office, called in when local prosecutors stepped off the case, said it could not comment on "open investigations." The statement in effect indicates the criminal investigation continues. Given the involvement of public officials and potential sex offenses involving young people, it would not also be a surprise to learn of federal interest in the probe. The statement from Special Prosecutor Jack McQuary said that once an investigation is complete, records pertaining to that investigation may be released, whether or not charges are filed.

Sachar said his agency had turned all its investigation over to state and federal authorities, who were actively pursuing the case. Victims may bring civil complaints, too, against Boeckmann, who has a family farming operation. Sachar said he was satisfied with the outcome of the work by his agency, but wouldn't be fully satisfied until Boeckamnn faced a criminal prosecution.

The case began almost by chance, with a charge that Boeckmann had a conflict of interest in handling a case related to a nursing home in which a relative had an interest. Interviews in that case eventually uncovered the staggering trial of sexual liaisons with young men, often paid by checks Boeckmann wrote.

Boeckmann's resignation came as the Judicial Commission was moving toward a public hearing on violations of ethics rules. The announcement of the resignation came as the office notified Boeckmann's lawyer of a lengthy list of potential witnesses and some of the specifics of allegations those witnesses would made. For example, an excerpt of one letter from David Sachar, executive director of the Commission, to Boeckmann:

click to enlarge letter.jpg
Because of the pending investigation, the Arkansas Supreme Court suspended Boeckmann, a part-time judge who also had a private practice in Wynne, from the bench in November. 

Here's the file released today by the Judicial Discipline Commission.

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