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Sunday, June 16, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Ranting at Sex Offender Leaves Judge Censured

(CN) - A judge crossed the line when he told a man who sodomized little boys to rot in prison, while others want him "hanging from a tree," the Oregon Supreme Court ruled.

Judge Timothy Barnack had made the comments in 2011 while sentencing Richard Lee Taylor to 21 life sentences without the possibility of parole.

Taylor's trial in Jackson County Circuit Court had not been an easy one. The evidence included dozens of videos of Taylor sexually abusing two 12-year-old boys, and many jurors cried as they were forced to watch the footage in the three-day proceedings. When Barnack cut the disturbing footage off, jurors thanked him and asked if the court would provide them with counseling.

They ultimately convicted Taylor of 21 sex crimes.

When Taylor declined to comment during his sentencing, Barnack filled the air with a few comments of his own.

He called Taylor a "piece of shit," repeatedly asked Taylor if he wanted to save his soul, and shared his personal hope that Taylor rots in prison. Other members of the community might ask why Taylor is not "hanging from a tree," Barnack said.

Later, the judge apologized to his colleagues and admitted that Taylor's silence had caused him to lose control of his emotions.

He noted that one of Taylor's victims had been in the courtroom, that the videos of the abuse had traumatized him, and that he thought Taylor showed indifference and a lack of sympathy.

Barnack consented with the decision of Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability that he should be censured, and the Oregon Supreme Court approved the decision last week.

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