Police are investigating an extremely disturbing video that has gained national attention, purportedly showing a Texas judge whipping his daughter repeatedly with a belt.
According to the video's description -- which says it was recorded and uploaded to YouTube by the judge's daughter herself -- Aransas County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams beat the 16-year-old girl "as punishment for using the Internet to acquire music and games that were unavailable for legal purchase at the time." It said she has ataxic cerebral palsy, which led to a "passion for technology" -- something her father strictly forbid.
The description, signed by Hillary Adams, says the video was recorded in 2004 but was just posted Oct. 27. Hillary told local Texas station KZTV 10 she was waiting for the right time to release it. Judge Adams is running for re-election.
"My father's harassment was getting really bad, so I decided to finally publish the video that I had been sitting on for 7 years," Hillary told the station.
In an interview with local NBC affiliate KRIS-TV, Judge Adams confirmed he is the man in the video.
"It happened years ago..I apologized," Adams said.
Asked by the station whether he thought the beating was excessive, he replied, "It's not as bad as it looks on tape."
A statement on the Aransas County website said it is "aware of the video posted on YouTube regarding County Court-at-Law Judge William Adams, and the matter is now under review by the Police Department."
Before Adams himself came forward, Rockport police chief Tim Jayroe told the International Business Times he couldn't confirm the man's identity but said the police would "try to contact folks identified in the video to determine authenticity."
Jayroe said no complaints have been filed against Adams in the past.
Gawker also spoke with a friend of Hillary's before Adams came forward who said the man in the video is undoubtedly the judge.
"It's him," J. Andre Bardin told the site. "That's his voice, that's his mannerisms, and that is his house."
The seven-and-a-half-minute video, allegedly filmed with a hidden camera in Hillary's bedroom, shows extreme physical and emotional abuse. Adams screams at the girl, belt in hand, and demands she get down on the bed onto her stomach. When she doesn't comply, he repeatedly beats her with the belt on her legs and elsewhere on her body, undeterred by her screams and cries of pain.
"I'm going to beat you into submission," he says.
At one point a woman -- the judge's wife, according to the video's description -- comes in to observe, then joins in, telling the girl to take the beating "like a grown woman." After a few moments the judge comes back, saying "I never got my lick in."
"You don't deserve to be in this f**king house. Disobedient," he says. "What happened to you Hillary? Once you were an obedient, nice little girl. Now you lie, cheat, steal."
He threatens the girl that if she talks back to her parents or uses the computer inappropriately again, "I'm going to take you in here and wear your f**king ass out with this belt. That's what it's come to."
Though the video was uploaded Oct. 27, it didn't attract much attention until Adams posted it on the website Reddit Tuesday night. From there, outlets including Gawker picked it up and it quickly went viral overnight. It has since amassed more than 600,000 views.
CONTENT WARNING -- EXTREMELY GRAPHIC AND DISTURBING IMAGES
Of her decision to record the incident seven years ago, Hillary told KZTV, "It had happened before, and had been escalating."
"I set up a camera, and I caught it," she said.
Hillary said her parents are now separated and that her mother, emotionally abused herself, was "severely manipulated into assisting the beating and should not be blamed for any content in this video."
"The judge's wife has since left the marriage due to the abuse, which continues to this day, and has sincerely apologized and repented for her part and for allowing such a thing, long before this video was even revealed to exist," the description says.
The description ends with a warning about re-electing Adams.
"Judge William Adams is not fit to be anywhere near the law system if he can't even exercise fit judgement as a parent himself. Do not allow this man to ever be re-elected again. His "judgement" is a giant farce. Signed, Hillary Adams, his daughter."
A Facebook page has been created dedicated to stopping Adams' re-election. Less than 24 hours since the video went viral, the page garnered more than 4,400 Facebook "likes" by Wednesday morning and continues to grow.
On her Twitter page, Hillary said Wednesday morning she's overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she's received, though she's feeling "some regret" for posting the video.
"I'm feeling some regret for publishing the video because to ruin my own father is heavy indeed. But I really want him to seek help," she wrote.
In two follow-up messages, she wrote again that her father desperately needs help.
"It is my wish that people stop threatening my father and start offering professional help. That is what he really needs," she said. "Please spread the word that my father needs professional help and not hatred. We can offer him the tools to be a better person."
Editor's note: This post has been updated with Judge Adams' response and confirmation that he is the man in the video.