At a hearing this morning, Charles Harper put in a guilty plea on charges of stalking/domestic violence against his former foster dad, Broward County Circuit Judge John Bowman.
Cops arrested Harper in December near Bowman's home. Afterward, Harper came forward with sex abuse allegations against the judge while he was awaiting trial on the stalking charge.
Harper's half-brother Joseph Gibbs said that Harper pleaded guilty at the urging of friends and family. Harper will serve a year on probation, and he has to
complete a "battery intervention program," a class for convicted domestic violence offenders (though these charges never alleged that Harper had physical contact with Bowman). In addition, he was ordered to issue a public apology to Bowman.
Gibbs spoke to New Times from outside the jail, where he was waiting for Harper's release.
Bill Direnzo, the erstwhile DUI attorney who was assigned to Harper's case after the Public Defender's Office bowed out, says that the case could have gone further.
"There are a lot of things we could have done that we didn't get a chance to do because we got this plea today," Direnzo said.
Direnzo had been out of the office, and sat down with Harper only yesterday to discuss the case. He says he previously visited Harper in jail and had met him briefly during a previous hearing on the status of his case.
A group of private attorneys told New Times as recently as yesterday that they were interested in representing Harper pro bono but could not reach him in jail under regulations about soliciting clients.
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Harper made a statement to Plantation police a week ago detailing alleged sexual abuse and child pornography by Bowman. It's unclear whether this plea will have any bearing on the investigation of those allegations.
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