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Director of Public Safety for the city of St. Louis Judge Jimmie Edwards meets the press

Director of Public Safety for the city of St. Louis Judge Jimmie Edwards endorses Prop P during a press conference on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017, at City Hall. Edwards was sworn in this morning in a private ceremony. Photo by Laurie Skrivan, lskrivan@post-dispatch.com

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Public Safety Director Jimmie Edwards, a former circuit court judge, says language he used in a 2005 trial was “inappropriate” and regrets repeating a homophobic slur used during testimony in that case.

An excerpt from the 466-page trial transcript was posted on social media earlier this week by Close the Workhouse, a group that is pressing the city to shutter the St. Louis Medium Security Institution on Hall Street.

According to the transcript, before pronouncing sentence, Edwards strongly disputed claims by defendant Anthony Carroll that he was not a homosexual. In his statement, Edwards used the same derogatory slurs the defendant was accused of using when he sodomized his victim:

“Mr. Carroll, during the trial, I was baffled during cross-examination. The prosecutor asked you whether you were a homosexual and you were upset. You told him I believe your words were you were not a ---. I’ve consulted some of my friends that are homosexuals and they want me to let you know, whether or not you’re the giver or the givee, if you have forced a heterosexual man to ... , you are a ---.”

{p style=”text-align: left;”}Carroll, who pleaded guilty in 1984 to abusing a child and in 1993 to second-degree burglary, was accused of breaking into an apartment in the Dutchtown neighborhood in south St. Louis in 2003, robbing and repeatedly sodomizing the male tenant at gunpoint.

During the trial, the victim described how he’d been brutalized:

Victim: He just kept talking to me like an animal.

Prosecutor: What do you mean?

Victim: Telling me I was basically scum, that I deserved this, that I asked for this.

Prosecutor: So what happened after you got dressed?

Victim: He immediately told me that I’d better never ever tell anybody what had happened.

Prosecutor: Did he say what would happen if you did?

Victim: He would kill me.

Prosecutor: So then what happened?

Victim: He just kept telling me that over and over again.

Prosecutor: Not to tell anyone?

Victim: ’Cause he would kill me because he didn’t want anyone to know he was a — — .

Anthony Carroll

Anthony Carroll, in 2005. 

When he testified in his defense, Carroll said he didn’t have a gun, and denied sodomizing the victim. According to the trial transcript, Carroll said he’d been called a homosexual since he was incarcerated, but didn’t like “people” saying that about him.

Prosecutor: You don’t want to be thought of as a homosexual?

Carroll: What do you mean “thought of as a homosexual”?

Prosecutor: You don’t want people to think you’re gay or anything, do you?

Carroll: It wasn’t even — I’ve been through that for fourteen years.

Prosecutor: Through what?

Carroll: Being called that since I’ve been incarcerated.

Prosecutor: Okay. But it’s certainly not anything you like people saying about you, is it?

Carroll: No.

Prosecutor: Certainly not anything you’re going to admit doing, is it?

Carroll: I would have admitted to it, sir, if I’d done it.

Prosecutor: You would have admitted you forcibly sodomized when you robbed someone?

Carroll: Yes, sir, I would have if I’d done it.

In March 2005, a jury convicted Carroll of one count of first-degree robbery, two counts of forcible sodomy, three counts and armed criminal action, one count of first-degree burglary, and one court of misdemeanor stealing.

Edwards sentenced Carroll to consecutive terms of 160 years’ imprisonment.

Carroll, 54, currently is an inmate at Southeast Correctional Center in Charleston, Mo.

Asked on Wednesdayabout his comments in 2005, Edwards told the Post-Dispatch: “What I did was I just simply repeated the examination that the prosecutor had with the defendant.”

But Edwards acknowledged that the comments, which were directed at the defendant, are disconcerting when taken out of context.

“I probably should have said, ‘Your words were inappropriate.’ I know absolutely today I would not have repeated (those words), but I still would have sentenced” the defendant to 160 years.

Edwards, in an appearance Thursday on KMOX (1120 AM), apologized again for the statement. “I regret having used the word. … It was done in the context of the case. It’s not a word I’ve used since.”

Edwards, who left the bench on October 2017 to join the administration of Mayor Lyda Krewson, pointed to his record of approving adoptions by same-sex couples and officiating at same-sex marriages.

Krewson, in a statement Wednesday, called Edwards a “very fair-minded, impartial person.”

“He was the first judge in the state to grant same-sex adoptions (2007), and the first judge in the City to grant same-sex marriages. His actions in support of the LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex and asexual) community support his fair and impartial nature,” Krewson said.

The Close the Workhouse campaign, which last week garnered the high-profile endorsement of Ben Cohen, a co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, has also shared on Twitter examples of racist or otherwise offensive Facebook posts made by current or former St. Louis police officers, which were recently disclosed by the Philadelphia-based Plain View Project.

Close the Workhouse is supported primarily by three organizations: Action St. Louis, ArchCity Defenders and Bail Project St. Louis. The organization did not respond Thursday to requests for comment.

Those Facebook posts identified by the Plain View Project are the subject of an internal affairs investigation by the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Additionally, St. Louis Circuit Attorney Kimberly M. Gardner has added 22 officers identified by the Plain View Project to a list of officers banned from bringing cases to her office.