Judge rips into USF's LaDarrius Jackson, coach Charlie Strong (w/video)
Hillsborough County judge Margaret Taylor, a USF graduate, ripped into a Bulls player standing in her courtroom -- and his coach -- Wednesday.
Taylor had scathing words for DE LaDarrius Jackson, arrested Monday evening on charges of sexual battery and false imprisonment of another student in a campus residential hall.
She then raked first-year coach Charlie Strong over the remaining coals, prompting Strong to issue a response when the courtroom video went viral.
That video, provided by our news partners at WTSP, can be seen here.
"If these allegations against you are true, I must say that your behavior is nothing short of outrageous," Taylor told Jackson, handcuffed and dressed in a jail-issued red inmate's jumpsuit.
"I graduated from USF in 1989, long before there was a football team. And while USF may not be the top-ranked school in the nation, I was never ashamed of being an alum until now. I'm embarrassed and ashamed, Mr. Jackson. Let's just say my USF diploma is not proudly hanging in my office right now."
Taylor then proceeded to blast Strong, who didn't attend the proceedings.
"In the last couple of months there have been two arrests of your players for very violent felonies (including Hassan Childs' road rage-related arrest)," Taylor continued.
"This court, and I'm sure I'm not alone, questions whether you have control over your players. It's fairly clear that you do not have control of them off the field. And I guess only time will tell whether you have control over them on the field.
"I would implore you to think long and hard about whether being head coach at USF is a good fit for you, before any other members of this community have to suffer at the hands of one of your players."
Neither Childs nor Jackson were recruited by Strong, who was hired in December. Childs was dismissed from the team only a couple of days after his arrest in March.
Strong, who has suspended Jackson from all team activities for the time being, responded with a statement of his own, released by USF.
In the short time I have been here our program has been built on character, discipline and family. We have wonderful young men in the USF football program who choose to do the right thing every day. We are dedicated to recruiting young men of high character, and to consistently developing them with structure and frequent education regarding appropriate conduct and behavior, on and off the playing field. While I am shocked and saddened at the recent arrest of a member of our team, I am disappointed that the actions of two players over the last two months have harmed the reputation of our program, of our wonderful university and of my character. We have high expectations of our coaches, staff and student-athletes and we hold accountable those who act contrary to our values.
Taylor is no stranger to national attention. Less than two years ago, her pursuit of a downtown Tampa residence was profiled on HGTV's House Hunters.
Charles Rose, a professor at Stetson University College of Law, said nothing in Taylor's remarks toward Jackson or Strong is in violation of "judicial ethics or canons."
"The only issue that you could probably allege if you were a defense attorney is she's somehow shown a bias against USF football," Rose said. "But her language was carefully crafted and calculated to prevent that from happening."
Rose said such a criticism would be bolstered if it became part of a pattern of behavior by the judge. But there is no indication that is the case with Taylor.
"She's trying to send a message from the bench about the appropriateness of the behavior," he said.