As­sault charge dropped against judge

Pros­e­cu­tor: ‘The fact that [Parker] is a judge was ir­rel­e­vant’

Rappahannock News - - FRONT PAGE - By John Mc­caslin Rappahannock News staff

A Stafford County judge yes­ter­day granted a mo­tion by Stafford County Com­mon­wealth’s At­tor­ney Eric Olsen to drop a mis­de­meanor as­sault and bat­tery charge against Rappahannock County Cir­cuit Court Judge Jef­frey W. Parker.

“To­day I made a mo­tion to drop the charge,” Olsen told the Rappahannock News in a tele­phone in­ter­view fol­low­ing the morn­ing hear­ing in Stafford County Gen­eral Dis­trict Court.

“When I made the re­quest to the judge I sum­ma­rized my rea­son­ing for my de­ci­sion, showed him a video of the in­ci­dent, and then asked him to drop the charge. The judge had to find good cause to grant the mo­tion, through my sum­mary of ev­i­dence that I gave sur­round­ing the day in

ques­tion,” Olsen said.

“Ob­vi­ously Judge Parker and I are de­lighted the case was re­solved in his fa­vor,” Parker’s War­ren­ton based at­tor­ney, Robin C. Gulick, told this news­pa­per yes­ter­day. “It was a good morn­ing.”

Gulick said after re­view­ing a Wal­mart video of the Sept. 5 in­ci­dent, and fur­ther re­views of in­ter­views with the ar­rest­ing of­fi­cer and the store’s sales as­so­ciate who had been cen­tral to the case against Judge Parker, the Stafford judge ob­vi­ously “con­cluded the case was not pros­e­cutable.”

When speak­ing to this news­pa­per yes­ter­day, Olsen sum­ma­rized his mo­tion be­fore the bench to dis­miss: “That Judge Parker, the de­fen­dant, was at the Wal­mart on Route 17 [north of Fred­er­icks­burg] where he found [in the park­ing lot] a leather watch­band with rings at­tached to it — they ap­peared as if they could be diamond rings, valu­able rings — and he went to the cus­tomer ser­vice desk to turn it in.”

After the judge handed the found items to the sales as­so­ciate, he “in­sisted that he get a re­ceipt,” Olsen con­tin­ued. When she de­clined to pro­vide a re­ceipt, the at­tor­ney said the judge then “reached over counter” to take back the prop­erty, and in do­ing so “his hands were on both the prop­erty and her hands.

“She would not give it up and he was try­ing to take it back,” Olsen de­scribed it. “It all lasted a pe­riod of 3 to 5 sec­onds. I played the video in court.”

Olsen pointed out that the video was from an “over­head cam­era, and it shows the back of her head and the top of his head,” so it was not in­cred­i­bly re­veal­ing. “You can see his hands on hers and the prop­erty at the same time.”

The sales as­so­ciate had told the re­spond­ing Stafford County Sher­iff’s deputy that Judge Parker had squeezed her hand to the ex­tent that it was painful. The deputy even­tu­ally placed the judge un­der ar­rest — even though it was Parker him­self who called 911.

Asked whether the video re­vealed any de­gree of pain, Olsen told this news­pa­per he hes­i­tated to an­swer the ques­tion: “It’s some­thing you can’t tell — the de­gree of touch­ing — by the video. Both had a hold of the prop­erty and nei­ther wanted to let it go.”

Olsen said after the sher­iff’s of­fice had in­ter­viewed both the sales as­so­ciate and the ac­cused judge, the deputy de­ter­mined there was prob­a­ble cause to make an ar­rest.

“I told the [Stafford] judge that after re­view­ing the case, and re­view­ing the video, that I felt there was prob­a­ble cause to make the ar­rest . . . but that it did not war­rant a crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion,” Olsen ex­plained to the News.

“The fact that he [Parker] is a judge was ir­rel­e­vant,” he added. “Our job as pros­e­cu­tors is to look at our cases to see what should be pros­e­cuted. My de­ci­sion not to pros­e­cute was no dif­fer­ent in this case than oth­ers.”

The 65-year-old Parker was just reap­pointed in Jan­uary to an eight-year term in the 20 Ju­di­cial Cir­cuit , which in­cludes Rappahannock County.

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