The Harris County prosecutor’s office is seeking the recusal of a criminal court judge who they say is biased against defendants in child sex abuse cases.
In a motion filed April 12, District Attorney Kim Ogg and Assistant District Attorney Tyler White asked Judge Jason Luong of the 185th Judicial District to recuse himself from a possible retrial of a defendant whose case has been brought before his court.
In March, Phillip Recio, 39, was sentenced to 25 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of continuing child sexual abuse. He is now asking for a new trial for lack of lawyers.
According to the motion, after Recio’s sentencing, Luong summoned prosecutors and the defense attorney to his office to provide “comments on the trial.”
During that meeting, the prosecutor’s office alleges that the judge told the group that he thought the jury got the verdict wrong and the sentence was too severe “because he personally did not believe he there was enough evidence to convict the defendant,” adding that Luong had criticized a prosecutor. for making child complainants in sexual abuse cases “too believable,” the motion says.
Prosecutors also say Luong equated child sex abuse cases with the Salem witch trials, quoting the judge as saying, “A simple statement of protest from a child is enough to lock a man up for the rest of his life. “.
The motion says the judge said the text messages between the child victim and the defendant were “normal” and that he had similar conversations with a child.
Prosecutors allege the judge was referring to text messages in which Recio told the child he missed her, wanted to cuddle her and begged her to send pictures of herself.
The motion describes what the state says was a similar situation with Judge Luong in February 2022 after the acquittal of a defendant accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child.
Prosecutors say Luong once again called them back to his office for a “trial feedback” in which the judge told two assistant prosecutors that they were “too good” to judge “these business” and that many innocent men will go to jail as a result. “, according to the court document.
The DA office says that during this meeting, Luong continually expressed his belief that children lie.
In court documents, the state wrote, “Judge Luong’s actions created an appearance of bias toward the defendant and bias against the law on which the state is entitled to rely. Therefore, he should be recused from any further involvement in this matter.”
Advocates for child victims of sexual abuse called the judge’s alleged remarks “disturbing”.
“It was very off-putting to hear some of these comments that were made. Children may minimize or confuse details related to their abuse, but they will rarely lie about it,” said Olivia Rivers, executive director of The Bridge Over Troubled Waters, a Harris County nonprofit that provides safety and victim support. domestic and sexual violence.
KPRC 2 legal analyst, attorney Brian Wice, said he believed the regional presiding judge who will hear the recusal motion on Wednesday morning would grant the state its request.
“Judges are essentially tasked with three clear and simple mandates: One, to call balls and strikes without passion or prejudice. Two, stay away. And three, it doesn’t matter who wins or who loses. This motion paints a picture of a judge who has apparently defaulted on one or more of those three terms,” Wice said.
KPRC 2 attempted to reach Judge Luong for comment and contacted Gordon Quan, who is involved in the judge’s re-election campaign, but did not hear back.
EDITOR’S NOTE: KPRC 2 News does not identify victims of sexual abuse. Certain information provided in court documents has been removed to protect the identity of the child in the case.
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