ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Albuquerque's chief criminal judge was arrested on charges he raped a prostitute, and an undercover officer bought a video recording of the alleged attack, according to a criminal complaint.
State District Judge Pat Murdoch was arrested Tuesday for criminal sexual penetration and intimidation of a witness. He posted bond Tuesday night and was scheduled for a first court appearance on Thursday.
The complaint against him says a detective first heard about the reported attack and the recording from an informant, who helped the investigator buy the video on DVD for $400.
Police then questioned the woman, who said Murdoch solicited her on a prostitution website.
The woman told police she met with the judge about eight times and he paid her about $200 each time. She said he forced himself on her during one visit, and she returned and secretly recorded a second forced encounter.
She said that after making the recording, she began to worry about her safety because when she posed hypothetical situations to the judge about a woman making allegations against him, he replied he would use police and his connections to take care of the situation.
Murdoch could not immediately be reached for comment. He does not have a listed home phone number and his office did not know who will represent him.
Described as a well-respected member of the judicial community, Murdoch has presided over numerous high-profile cases, including fraud allegations involving former Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron and three other defendants.
He also issued rulings in the case of John Hyde, an Albuquerque man accused of killing two police officers and three others during a single day in 2005, and he sentenced an Albuquerque man to 20 years in prison earlier this year for promoting prostitution, extortion and racketeering.
Police said Murdoch was cooperating with investigators. He was questioned after his arrest, and Deputy Police Chief Paul Feist said the investigators described him as polite and respectful.
Murdoch's arrest comes just days after Gov. Susana Martinez called on the state's judges and lawyers to take steps to help bolster confidence in the legal system. She cited a case of alleged judicial bribery in Las Cruces in which state District Judge Michael Murphy is accused of telling a potential judicial candidate that she needed to make payments to a Democratic activist if she wanted to be considered for a seat on the bench under then-Gov. Bill Richardson.
The arrest also comes just weeks after former University of New Mexico President Chris Garcia, a respected political science professor, was accused of helping lead a sophisticated online prostitution ring.
Police said there was no connection between the Garcia case and Murdoch.
Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Brown contributed to this report.
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