A long-serving New Mexico criminal court judge has been arrested on charges that he raped a prostitute who videotaped the encounter and sold it to undercover Albuquerque detectives.
Judge Albert "Pat" Murdoch was arrested on Tuesday for charges of criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness. Murdoch presides over the criminal division for the 2nd Judicial Circuit Court and is a well known and respected judge who has been serving for 26 years.
If convicted, Murdoch could be sentenced to up to five years in prison. He was scheduled to be arraigned today.
One of his most high-profile cases was the 2010 Desert Divas case, regarding a prostitution ring. He ultimately suppressed the prostitution ring's client list.
Murdoch has also made rulings in numerous prostitution and rape cases and Albuquerque Police Department Commander Doug West said there is a "good possibility" that the judge's arrest "has the potential to put all the cases in jeopardy."
The alleged victim in the charges against Murdoch is an Albuquerque woman who said Murdoch contacted her after seeing her advertisement for sexual services online. She said she met with him and he took her to his home where she was paid $200 for sexual favors, according to court documents.
Judge's Rape Arrest Could Affect Many Rape and Prostitution Cases He Ruled On
The woman told detectives that she went to Murdoch's home eight times, and that he forcibly performed oral sex on her, despite her objections to oral sex. After he did this a first time, she said she hid a video camera in his room and recorded him forcibly doing this to her again amid her protests.
The police report said "her statement was supported by the video" and that her protests were audible on the tape.
After the woman videotaped the incident, she began to worry about her safety and posed hypothetical situations to Murdoch about what he would do if a woman were to make allegations about him. She said he told her that "he would use the police and his connections to take care of the situation," according to the police affidavit released by the court.
According to the report, a confidential informant told detectives that they were aware of a video of Murdoch "engaging in sexual acts with a female whom he exchanged money with?for the sex acts" and that the tape could be obtained for $400.
The detectives made a plan to purchase the video and obtained a DVD in a clear plastic disc marked "Murdoch Tape" from an African-American man and a Hispanic woman. After returning to the station and viewing the tape, the detectives brought the man and woman to the police station to be interviewed.
West said he was "shocked" to hear the story since he has known Judge Murdoch for many years. "He was very popular, very involved. It was a big hit to the community," West said.
Murdoch was arrested on Tuesday and released early on Wednesday after posting $50,000 bond.
"Judge Murdoch has proudly served his community for 26 years," said Murdoch's lawyer Ahmad Assed in a statement. "While he has great respect for the law and law enforcement, he is confident that he will be vindicated once the issues surrounding this case are fully examined and decided."
Assed also wrote that Murdoch has taken a "voluntary leave of absence" from his duties as the Chief Criminal Judge of the District Court so as not to distract from court matters.
Questions have arisen regarding the woman's motives for videotaping the act and whether she planned to use the tape as blackmail or to make money.