On the Paper Trail of a Pedophile, Part 7: Atchison was connected in Florida as well as in Alabama
This blog is the seventh concerning John David Roy Atchison, Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Florida, Pensacola, arrested in Detroit in September 2007 on charges relating to pedophilia. He committed suicide in federal prison in October 2007; arrest and suicide were not foregrounded by the Justice Department in the Bush administration, and family connections have further obscured the matter.
In 2005, the Southern Center for Human Rights and the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund filed a lawsuit in federal court in Gulfport, Miss., on behalf of a number of poor plaintiffs, alleging that the City of Gulfport had established basically a debtor’s prison. Among the plaintiffs was an illiterate woman, mentally challenged, who had been incarcerated repeatedly for unpaid fines in spite of her impairment and the fact that her income consisted of a small monthly SSI check. Plaintiffs alleged through counsel that Gulfport was rounding up people with unpaid fines, mainly in black neighborhoods, and corralling them in the overcrowded county jail with little process.
Defendants in the lawsuit, settled in January 2007, included the City of Gulfport and then-Chief Municipal Court Judge William B. (Bill) Atchison.
Bill Atchison’s brother was Roy Atchison, the federal prosecutor in Pensacola, Fla., who killed himself in prison after being arrested on charges basically of pedophilia in 2007.
As said, the lawsuit was settled in January 2007, with Bill Atchison, the Chief Municipal Court Judge, and the City of Gulfport both represented by city attorney Jeffrey S. Bruni. Other defendants included a fellow municipal court judge, Richard Smith; Gulfport Municipal Court Administrator bill Markopoulos; and Senior Warrants Officer Walter Eighmey of the Gulfport Police Department. The lawsuit was filed in July 2005. A McClatchey newspaper, the Biloxi, Miss., Sun Herald, had reported in June that the City of Biloxi had a backlog of $10.7 million in unpaid fines assessed in its municipal court.
Bruni and the city office of Gulfport have not yet returned a call for comment.
Judge Atchison’s brother was arrested in September 2007, as previously written. News reports did not mention the family connections to Gulfport’s Chief Municipal Court Judge. The Atchison brothers’ parents live in Gulfport. Roy Atchison’s death in prison occurred Oct. 5, 2007.
A little more than a year later, the chief judge himself was arrested, on Feb. 4, 2009, charged with abusing prescription drugs after an investigation of several months, according to the Harrison County, Miss., sheriff’s office and Gulfport police. Bill Atchison was placed under house arrest. Concerns about his safety in the presence of inmates he had sentenced kept him from having to do jail time in the facility to which the debtors above, for example, had been remanded.
As the Sun Herald reported, the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics alleged that in April 2007 Bill Atchison obtained a 15-day supply of hydrocodone from one physician, another prescription from a second physician five days later, and a third prescription from a third physician two weeks later.
Thus the case against Bill Atchison in Mississippi developed during 2007 and 2008—resulting in the early 2009 arrest–and must have overlapped with the developing FBI investigation against Roy Atchison in Florida and Detroit. Their father, retired physician William David Atchison, was allegedly among the doctors from whom Bill Atchison acquired some of his prescriptions. Atchison went on administrative leave after his arrest and resigned his judgeship.
A call for information has been placed with Bill Atchison’s attorney, criminal defense lawyer Wayne Woodall. Woodall told reporters that Bill Atchison had undergone two surgeries and was in pain requiring painkillers.
Nonetheless, the entire legal matter corroborates a key claim in the Southern Center and NAACP lawsuit about a debtors’ prison in Gulfport, that there is a different justice system for the affluent and well-connected than for the poor.
So does the delicate and muted handling of these legal matters in the press. There has been little or no media follow-up regarding the numerous cases on which the Municipal Court Chief Judge in Gulfport handed down decisions, including decisions in drug cases, before he resigned in April 2009 after his arrest on charges of abusing prescription drugs. McClatchy, which ran the story on Bill Atchison, did not note the kinship when the Roy Atchison story surfaced but did report the physician father’s alleged involvement.