Judge Recuses Herself in USF Sexual Assault Case
A Hillsborough County circuit court judge recused herself just one day after lambasting University of South Florida’s coach Charlie Strong for the behavior of his players during the first court appearance of one of those players, defensive end Laddarius Jackson. Jackson has been charged with felony sexual assault and false imprisonment.
During the hearing, Judge Margaret Taylor – who is a graduate of the university – told Jackson that she “was never ashamed of being an alum until now.” She also directed comments to Strong, criticizing his apparent lack of control over his team.
“Coach Strong, if you are listening, in the last couple of months there have been two arrests of your players for very violent felonies. This court, and I’m sure I’m not alone, questions whether you have control over your players. It’s fairly clear you do not have control of them off the field, and I guess only time will tell whether you have control over them on the field.”
In addition to the criminal charges against Jackson, Judge Taylor’s comments were also referencing charges brought against defensive back Hassan Childs. In March, he was charged with three counts of felony assault and possession of marijuana.
These charges were a result of a road rage incident where Childs suffered three gunshot wounds. The incident resulted in Childs being dismissed from the team.
On Monday, May 1st, Jackson was arrested by university police as he was trying to board an airplane to fly home. The alleged assault occurred that afternoon when, according to the victim, she told Jackson both physically and verbally she did not want to have sex. The victim said he forcibly moved her to her room and on her bed where he sexually assaulted her.
The next morning, Jackson appeared before Judge Taylor. A videotape of the judge’s comments went viral, leading her to recuse herself the next day.
In a recent interview about the case, Attorney George Tragos commented, “Whenever you have a judge that lets emotion take over, both the prosecutor and the defense have a problem because at that point the law isn’t making the decisions anymore, it’s someone’s heart. And you just can’t have heart making the decisions when it should be legal decisions made by the law.”