By Christopher Sherman and Danny Robbins
McALLEN, Texas — A Texas family law judge whose daughter secretly videotaped him savagely beating her seven years ago won't face criminal charges because too much time has elapsed, police said.
Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams likely would have been charged with causing injury to a child or other assault-related offenses for the 2004 beating of his then-16-year-old daughter, but the five-year statutes of limitations expired, Rockport Police Chief Tim Jayroe said Thursday.
"We believe that there was a criminal offense involved and that there was substantial evidence to indicate that and under normal circumstances ... a charge could have been made," Jayroe said. He said the district attorney determined he couldn't bring charges, and that police would discuss the case with federal prosecutors even though he doesn't believe federal charges would apply.
Hillary Adams, now 23, posted the 8-minute clip on YouTube last week that shows her father viciously lashing her with a belt and trying to force her to bend over her bed to be beaten despite her wails and pleas to stop. The clip had received more than 2.4 million hits as of Thursday, and police began investigating Wednesday after hearing from concerned citizens.
William Adams, 51, issued a three-page statement Thursday saying his daughter posted the clip to get back at him for telling her he would be reducing the amount of financial support he gives her and taking away her Mercedes. The statement did not include an apology for the beating, but he told Corpus Christi television station KZTV on Wednesday that the video "looks worse than it is," that he had already apologized to his daughter and that he was just disciplining his child for stealing.
Hillary Adams says her parents were angry because she had downloaded pirated content online, and that she turned on the camera because she sensed something was going to happen.
William Adams, who presides over child abuse cases, is still being investigated by the state's judicial conduct commission and the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services, which on Thursday requested that he be removed from its cases until the investigation concludes.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the agency, declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the investigation. But he said that in general, the agency would only investigate a case in which a suspected abuse victim has already reached adulthood if there are still children in the home who could be at risk. Adams was granted joint custody of his 10-year-old daughter in his 2007 divorce.
There are no allegations of alleged abuse by Adams against his younger daughter, who primarily resides with her mother, Hallie Adams. Crimmins declined to say whether his agency is investigating the parental fitness of Hallie Adams, who lashed Hillary once during the 2004 beating.
Crimmins said his agency ordinarily wouldn't disclose that it is investigating someone, but that it did in this case because the investigation is the reason it requested that William Adams be taken off its cases.
Jayroe said that police did not interview the younger daughter, but asked both Hallie and Hillary Adams about it and there was no indication of abuse of the younger daughter.
In his statement Thursday, Adams said he would "respond" to all investigations. As Aransas County's top judge, he has dealt with at least 349 family law cases in the past year alone, nearly 50 of which involved state caseworkers seeking determine whether parents were fit to raise their children.
County officials confirmed that Adams will not hear cases related to Child Protective Services for at least the next two weeks. And the top administrator in Aransas County cast doubt on whether Adams could credibly return to the bench.
"I would think it would be very difficult," said Aransas County Judge C.H. "Burt" Mills Jr. "Personally I don't see how he can recover from this."
If the judicial commission and police investigations don't lead to punishment or charges, Adams could be safe on the bench until he's up for re-election in three years.
Hillary Adams said she waited so long to expose her father because she was terrified at what might have happened had she done so while still living under his roof. She said the outpouring of support and encouragement she's received since posting the clip is tempered by the sadness that it's her father repeatedly lashing her with a belt and threatening to beat her "into submission."
During an interview with her mother Thursday on NBC's "Today" show, Hillary Adams said her father regularly beat her for a period of time. She has repeatedly said she didn't post the clip to spite her father, and that she hopes it forces him to seek help.
Her mother blamed her ex-husband's bouts of violence on an "addiction." She called it a "family secret," but declined to elaborate.
In his statement, though, William Adams painted a starkly different picture of why his daughter posted the clip.
"Just prior to the YouTube upload, a concerned father shared with his 23-year-old daughter that he was unwilling to continue to work hard and be her primary source of financial support, if she was going to simply `drop out,' and strive to achieve no more in life than to work part time at a video game store," Adams' statement said. "Hillary warned her father if he reduced her financial support, and took away her Mercedes automobile, which her father had provided, he would live to regret it."
Hillary Adams did not immediately respond to email requests Thursday seeking a response.
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