POSTED: Thursday, November 3, 2011 - 1:51pm
UPDATED: Sunday, November 6, 2011 - 5:48am
NBC NATIONAL NEWS — New video is surfacing out of Texas showing a father repeatedly hitting his teenage daughter with a belt. It's raising the debate over when discipline can turn into abuse.
The man in the video is Texas Judge William Adams, and the girl is his then 16-year-old daughter, who has cerebral palsy. The beating continues unabated for most of the 7-minute video that has swept the Internet and provoked an online outcry.
Again and again Hillary Adams cries out after being lashed by her father's belt on her legs, her arms and her buttocks. Once, at the hands of her mother.
“'You turn over, I'm going to spank you on your butt. You turn over like a 16-year-old and take it. Like a grown woman. Turn over!)
The disturbing scene was captured 7-years-ago in her bedroom, Hillary says, after her dad found out she had downloaded music from an illegal website.
“'Are you happy? [gets into her face as she lies on bed] disobeying your parents?
After holding onto the video since 2004, Hillary, now 23 and living on her own, uploaded it to YouTube after she says her father continued to harass her, and she finally had enough.
“The disputes and harassment were escalating and finally it was just the straw that broke the camel's back and I told him I had the video and he brushed it off.
Williams Adams isn't just Hillary's father, he's a judge in South Texas where he routinely rules on cases involving children. He also sits on a county board overseeing the juvenile system.
Adam’s admits that's him in the video, “In my mind, I haven't done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing. And I did lose my temper but I've since apologized. It looks worse than it is, there is a story. It'll come out in due time.
But as a family's private feud went public and viral, outrage has boiled over. Facebook pages have sprung up decrying Judge Adams, the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct has been flooded with demands he be removed from the bench, and in tiny Rockport, Police have been swamped by calls from all over the world.
Chief Tim Jayroe has opened an investigation at the District Attorney's request to determine whether the beating was criminal.
“Frequently it's a difficult thing to determine because by state law a person has a right to discipline their children to a point, but not to the point that you can cause serious bodily injury to a child,” Jayroe says.
Hillary's mother has since divorced Adams and apologized for her role in the beating. For his part, Judge Adams insists his daughter wasn't hurt.
“I lost my temper, I spanked her,” he says. “Her mother was there. She wasn't hurt. It was a long time ago.”
Police say Judge Adams has left Rockport, and a note outside the courthouse informs his hearings have been canceled.
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