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Alabama judge not guilty of sexual abuse of inmates

Former Judge Herman Thomas was accused of spanking inmates on their bare bottoms.
Former Judge Herman Thomas was accused of spanking inmates on their bare bottoms.
  • Ex-Judge Herman Thomas acquitted of sexual abuse, attempted sodomy, assault
  • Judge says he brought inmates to his office to mentor them
  • Lawyer: "He was trying to get them to do right, to be productive citizens"

(CNN) -- A former Alabama judge accused of checking male inmates out of jail and forcing them to engage in sexual activity was found not guilty Monday on charges of sexual abuse, attempted sodomy and assault, his lawyer said.

Attorney Robert Clark said former Judge Herman Thomas was found not guilty on several charges and the judge in the case granted a directed verdict of acquittal on all the other counts.

The Mobile County district attorney did not immediately return CNN calls for comment.

Thomas, 48, denied wrongdoing. Clark said on October 20 that the judge was trying to mentor the inmates and did not assault them.

The judge does not deny bringing the inmates into his office, Clark said last week. "He was mentoring them. He was trying to get them to do right, to be productive citizens."

Thomas cried after the verdicts were read, Clark said Monday.

"He hugged me and he hugged his wife. And he had a courtroom full of supporters. It all worked out in the end," the attorney said.

One of the alleged victims testified October 19 that he doesn't know why his semen was found on the carpet of a small room used as an office by Thomas, according to The Mobile Press-Register newspaper. But he did say Thomas spanked him with a belt on several occasions, the newspaper reported, and that the paddlings took place inside a jury room, in the small office and at a Mobile, Alabama, fraternity house.

Another man testified that after he was charged with kidnapping and robbery in 2002, Thomas visited him in jail and urged the man to let Thomas decide the case instead of a jury, according to the Press-Register. Thomas convicted him of lesser charges, he testified, and sentenced him to a 90-day boot camp. He said Thomas also beat him with a belt on his bare buttocks about a dozen times at the courthouse, the newspaper reported. Neither man was identified.

"All of them [the alleged victims] were given preferential treatment at some point," Nicki Patterson, chief assistant district attorney for Mobile County, said earlier this month. "And ultimately, when some of them refused to continue participating [in the activities], they were given what I would view as excessive sentences. But certainly while the inmates were involved with the activities we allege, the state would say, it was extremely lenient sentences."

Clark said his client's next hurdle is the Alabama State Bar.

"They suspended him back in March because he got indicted. And we're fighting to give him his law license back," he said.

CNN's Carolina Sanchez contributed to this report.