An Alabama judge who’s facing a laundry list of tawdry sex charges will have one less witness to defend against when his case hits the courtroom on Monday.
On Tuesday, prosecutors announced that they were dropping one of the 15 cases against former Mobile County Circuit Judge Herman Thomas, who is accused of forcing male inmates to perform sexual favors, even making them strip down to their underwear so that he could spank them in a broom closet he converted into a private office.
But one of the alleged victims has sued his own lawyer, claiming that he was forced to testify against Thomas, CNN reports. In his lawsuit, Willie Pearson claims that Joe Kulakowski, his attorney in a separate case threatened him if he did not testify against Thomas, according to CNN. Prosecutors, however, deny that Pearson’s lawsuit is what motivated them to dismiss his case, saying the decision to drop it was an effort to streamline the case, CNN reports.
But Thomas, 48, still faces scores of criminal counts, such as kidnapping, sexual abuse, extortion and sodomy. In March, a grand jury returned an indictment with 57 counts. Five months later, another indictment added even more counts. Thomas is looking at a possible 10 and 99 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him, kidnapping, which is a Class A felony in Alabama, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. told CNN.
Thomas argues that the charges against him are merely an attempt by a racist system to get rid of the first and only Black circuit court judge in the history of Mobile County. "I'm not guilty, and I look forward to being a part of the community that's supported me and I've supported my entire life," Thomas told CNN in March.
Defense attorney Robert Clark told CNN in an earlier interview, “Did you ever think of the fact that this is the only Black circuit judge we've ever had in Mobile County, and that the right-wing Republicans have gotten rid of him?" "The South hasn't changed all that much."