By Jim Forsyth
SAN ANTONIO (Reuters) - The Texas judge who was seen on an Internet video beating his teenaged daughter with a belt has been suspended from the bench while state officials investigate his actions and determine if he should face punishment.
The Texas Supreme Court, in an order posted on its website on Wednesday, said William Adams, a County Court judge in Aransas County on the Texas Gulf coast, "voluntarily agrees to a temporary suspension from office, with pay."
But the order goes on to say that Adams "does not admit guilt, fault, or wrongdoing" for his actions seen in the video. His daughter Hillary Adams said it was secretly recorded in her bedroom in Rockport, Texas' in 2004, when the judge and his now ex-wife took turns yelling and cursing at her for downloading music from an illegal web site.
The video has been viewed by more than six million people since Hillary released it to the YouTube video sharing site on Nov 2.
In the video, Adams is seen repeatedly lashing Hillary, who was 16, yelling and cursing at her, while the girl whimpers and cries in pain. At one point he yells, "I ought to keep beating you and beating you!"
Along with the video posting, Hillary included a note saying, "Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can't even exercise fit judgment as a parent himself. Do not allow this man to be elected again. His judgment is a giant farce. Signed Hillary Adams, his daughter."
Prosecutors have said that since the beating took place in 2004, the five-year statute of limitations has expired and no criminal charges will be filed.
But the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct says it has the authority to punish Adams to the point of removing him from the bench.
"It is important to preserve the integrity of all judges in the State of Texas, to promote public confidence in the judiciary, and to encourage judges to maintain high standards of professional conduct," Commission chair Jorge Rangel said in a statement on its website.
Hillary told reporters after the video was released that she wanted to show that her father is "not fit to be a judge and should not be re-elected," but she said later she is "not wishing that her father loses his job."
"His being fit for the job, that's not something I can really say that he is," Hillary told "Today."
After the video was released, Adams told local reporters that the video was "not as bad as it looked.
"I lost my temper, she wasn't hurt," Adams told Corpus Christi TV station KZTV. "In my mind, I haven't done anything other than discipline my daughter."
But later, Adams released a statement through his attorney saying Hillary threatened him with release of the video after he stopped paying the 23 year old's bills and "took away her Mercedes."
"Her comments have been misguided and misleading," Adams said.
Officials in Aransas County said Adams has not been on the bench hearing cases since the video was released.
The video prompted a new national discussion on the use of corporal punishment, and led to the establishment of several Internet and Facebook sites calling for Adams to be fired, disbarred, and more.
Linda Garcia, the telephone operator at the Aransas County Courthouse, says she fielded "thousands" of calls from around the world in the days following the release of the video.
"Many of them were hate-filled," she said. "Many of the people used language that can't be repeated."
In fact, Aransas County officials said they may file criminal charges against some of the people who called, e-mailed, and even faxed the Courthouse, threatening to harm the judge and damage the courthouse. The charges could includes making threats of attacks, they said.
(Editing by Peter Bohan and Greg McCune)