Former Judge to Stand Trial on Charges of Kidnapping, Sex with Inmates

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Mobile, AL—One of the 15 cases against a former Alabama judge who allegedly checked inmates out of jail in order to have sex with them has been dropped, say prosecutors.

In a lawsuit, one of the purported inmates has said that his attorney encouraged him to testify against the judge, threatening him if he did not do so. Prosecutors have denied that this lawsuit is at issue in the dismissal of the case against former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas, and say that the dismissal is meant to streamline the trial.

Thomas, 48, still faces dozens of criminal counts, which include sexual abuse, kidnapping, sodomy and extortion. He was indicted in March on 57 counts, and on further counts in August. He faced a whopping total of 105 counts, but a judge threw out some of them because of expired statutes of limitations.

Some of the criminal defendants have claimed, both in court and affidavits, that Thomas took them to a storage room near his chambers at Mobile’s Government Plaza, asked to paddle them, and suggested sexual encounters. One of the alleged victim’s DNA matched a semen sample found on the room’s carpet, according to a state forensics report.

Other inmates alleged that Thomas threatened them with further jail time and with prison time if they did not agree to the sexual acts.

Thomas’s law license was suspended in March after the first indictment.

He had resigned from the bench in October 2007, prior to a scheduled trial before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary on charges of multiple ethics violations. This complaint accused Thomas of “extra-judiciary personal contact” with defendants, but makes no reference to sexual activities or improprieties. It was dismissed after the judge resigned.

If Thomas is convicted of kidnapping, a Class A felony in Alabama, he could face between 10 to 99 years in prison. Jury selection is expected to wrap up this week, with the trial taking place in the near future.

Thomas has maintained his innocence regarding all of the allegations of paddling and sexual contact with the inmates. He has further claimed that, because he was the only African-American circuit judge in the county, state Republicans had launched a smear campaign against him. Although he denied under oath all of the allegations in the initial indictment, a panel comprised of members of the Alabama State Bar’s Disciplinary Commission upheld the decision to suspend his license.

 

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