Judge Boothe recuses self in Ables trial

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, August 29, 2007

VIDALIA — The trial of a Vidalia man accused of child molestation may have temporarily stalled Wednesday when the judge overseeing the case recused himself.

At a status hearing for the case of State of Louisiana v. Charles Ables, Seventh Judicial District Court Division B Judge Leo Boothe recused himself from the case for personal reasons.

Boothe said he did not know if he could fairly judge the trial in light of past comments about him made in a local news media outlet by Ables’ attorney Daniel Stanford.

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“Normally I’m a pretty thick-skinned person, but when I saw this matter was to come before me, I started to think about (the comments),” Boothe said. “I’m not sure the name of justice will be served if I continue with this matter.”

The comments Stanford made were concerning Boothe’s absence at an unrelated hearing in September 2006 in which Boothe had been called as a witness.

Judge Kathy Johnson — who Boothe had contacted beforehand because he was out of town on business at the time — recused Boothe from the hearing.

Stanford had reportedly said Boothe was in contempt of court for not showing up after being subpoenaed, and had not notified the judge beforehand.

Stanford said, for his part, he was sorry about the comments, which were based on a misunderstanding.

“I want to state for the record my public apologies to the court,” Stanford said.

The matter will be transferred to Division A of the Seventh Judicial District Court, and will be overseen by Judge Kathy Johnson.

Ables, 42, 215 Ron Road, was arrested in January on charges of four counts of molestation and two counts of sexual battery of a juvenile.

Ables is currently free on a $145,000 bond.