The Queer, "Racist" Case of the Spank-Happy Judge

Now here's a scandal we sink our teeth into: Herman Thomas, a judge from Alabama, will stand trial for allegedly spanking inmates with paddles and, also, having sex with them. The putrid tale's a collection of sensational twists. Or devices.

Such allegations against Thomas go way back: two claims against him — one in 1999 and 2001 — were dismissed, but other inmates have since come forward to accuse Thomas of wacking them with a paddle and accepting oral or anal sex in exchange for reduced jail time, which sounds fair to us, but we have a messed up sense of justice.

Anyway, the accused are just convicts. What do they know? Maybe nothing, but investigators also found semen from at least one inmate in the carpet of Thomas' office, an office many of the accusers described in detail. It's all pretty damning, so the judge better have a great explanation. And he does! According to Thomas, a Democrat who worked in the primarily Republican Mobile County district, it's all just politics.

Even the judge's lawyer — a man called Robert "Cowboy Bob" Clark — isn't convinced by that flimsy argument, so he's pinning it all on racism. According to Clark, this whole trial, which he calls a "high-tech lynching," stems from the fact that people don't like black folk: "They don't like uppity black folks, and that's what they consider Herman." Well, that was said delicately.

Race sometimes works, but this doesn't seem like that kind of case — especially since all of the accusers are black — so Clark's also working another angle: the statute of limitations on the allegations, the last one of which took place in 2007, has expired. Prosecutors, however, aren't budging. In fact, they're just throwing on more fuel on the lurid fire.

In addition to the kidnapping, extortion, ethics and sex abuse charges against him, prosecutors have also filed sodomy charges, which is pretty funny since sodomy laws were deemed unconstitutional. No matter. The s-word lends instant outrage to such things, because it's gay and yucky. And the palatable distaste extends to assistant DA Nicki Paterson's take on the ethics charges:

If someone has a sexual fetish that involves beating young males without their pants up and that is sexually stimulating to them, then for them that's a thing of value.

Yes, this story has it all — race, politics, kinky sex, a potential closet case, thinly veiled homophobia — but just when you thought it couldn't become any more of a cluster fuck, check this: in 1997, supporters rallied Bill Clinton to name Thomas the first black federal judge in the district, but the nomination never came to fruition. Sad Thomas didn't measure up in the bar association.