A Harris County judge is on trial, accused of offering to dismiss a defendant’s charge, in exchange for a sexual relationship. Today we expect to hear from the woman behind the accusations.
Jurors heard an audiotape recorded by an investigator. The tape contains a conversation between that investigator and Judge Jackson. The investigator is questioning the judge about Ariana Venegas, 28. Venegas says Judge Donald Jackson offered to get her DWI case dismissed through a new lawyer in exchange for a sexual relationship.
Judge Jackson has denied those accusations. At the beginning of the tape, he did as well, denying even that he knew who Venegas was. But later, he admits to investigators that she’s a very striking young lady, very pretty. He adds that she approached him, unhappy with her appointed lawyer and seeking new counsel.
The tape gets interesting when Judge Jackson explains their meeting outside of court.
“I told her I’m gonna get a haircut and get a bite to eat,” Judge Jackson reportedly said on the tape. “I told her where I was gonna go and that if you’re concerned about it, yes, we’ll discuss it.”
Judge Jackson then reportedly told investigators, “I told her that I might be interested in a relationship other than defendant and judge. If she was interested, she could contact me. If she wasn’t, OK.”
Judge Jackson goes on to say, “I’m not concerned I did anything wrong. I may have done something stupid. What I’m really concerned with is my wife.”
Jurors are expected to hear from Venegas herself.
If convicted, Judge Jackson faces up to one year in jail and a $4,000 fine.