Texas judge's daughter says he 'dared' her to post beating video
Hillary Adams, now 23, said she did just that. The video has since gone viral, eliciting outrage from around the globe and sparking debate about when corporal punishment and discipline go too far. In the 2004 video, Aransas County Judge William Adams is cursing at his then-16-year-old daughter and using a belt to whip her for illegally downloading music and games.
The judge has temporarily stepped aside from his post while authorities conduct an investigation. He told local media that the beating is "not as bad as it looks on tape" and has added: "In my mind, I haven't done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing."
Hillary Adams' YouTube posting has racked up more than 2.2 million viewings, the majority coming in just the last 24 hours. There are more than 65,000 comments on the posting, and they are near universal in denouncing the judge's actions.
Hillary Adams appeared on the "Today" show Thursday morning and said she held on to the video for years and chose this moment to reveal it because she'd finally had enough. Although she did not go into detail, she told host Matt Lauer that "the disputes and the harassment were escalating, and finally it was just the straw that broke the camel's back." She added: "I told him I had the video and he brushed it off. ... He didn't seem to think anything of it, and basically dared me to post it."
She said she had set up the video camera on her dresser to capture the discipline that routinely occurred in the household. "It did happen regularly," she said. "I waited seven years because back then I was still a minor and living under his roof, and releasing it then, I don't know what would have happened to me, my mother, my little sister. So waiting until today, seven years later, has allowed me pull away and distance myself from the consequences."
On the show, Hillary was accompanied by her mother, Hallie, who is also seen in the video striking the girl and telling her to "take it."
The mother, who has since divorced William Adams, said she saw the video for the first time this weekend. She said she knows many people wonder how she could have participated, or stood by while her husband meted out the blows.
"My answer to you and to the world is something that I've been hiding for a very long time, it's a family secret, and that's addiction," she said. Although she did not go into details, she said she is not the one with the addiction.
She added, "I lived in an environment of dysfunction, and it steadily got worse." She said she tried to leave her husband when Hillary was just a baby but he "shamed" her into returning to the marriage. "I was completely brainwashed and controlled," she said, adding that her husband told her "what to say, what to do."
Hillary Adams said she has forgiven her mother.
William Adams has told local media that "there is a story" behind the videotape and that "it will come out in due time."
It is unclear whether the judge could face criminal charges in an incident that happened seven years ago, but it's possible it could end his judicial career. Hillary Adams said she regrets that possibility.
"I think he's been punished enough," she added, referring to the public scrutiny. Now, she said, she just wants him to get help. "We need to get him counseling or something."
Photo: Hillary Adams. Credit: Associated Press