Retired judge appointed to handle caseload of suspended Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III (2024)

Judge Tom Gillam III was suspended after being indicted on charges of official oppression related to sexual harassment.

BEAUMONT, Texas — Retired Jefferson County Justice of the Peace Ken Dollinger has been appointed as the primary judge to handle the caseload for suspended Jefferson County Precinct Eight Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III.

Gillam was suspended without pay on September 8, 2023, by the State Commission on Judicial Conduct following his indictment on charges of official oppression related to sexual harassment.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: The above video first aired on September 8, 2023.)

While Dollinger will be the primary judge handling Gillam’s caseload several other judges will also be helping if he needs a break according to Jefferson County Judge Jeff Branick.

The other judges available to handle Gillam’s cases are Precinct One Judge Ben Collins, Sr., Precinct Two Judge Joseph Guillory, Precinct Four Judge Ray Chesson and Precinct Seven Judge Brad Burnett, Branick told 12News.

Dollinger tells 12News that he volunteered to help out and won't be paid other a car allowance.

After spending 40 years with the county Dollinger said he was happy to help out and give back to the county.

This suspension follows an indictment naming Gillam on charges of official oppression related to sexual harassment.

Gillam's suspension began immediately after an order of suspension was signed Friday morning, September 8, 2023, at 10:49 a.m. according to a copy of the suspension obtained by 12News.

The suspension will remain in effect until the charges against Gillam have been dismissed, he is acquitted, or a further order is made by the commission according to the document.

Gillam first surrendered at the Jefferson County Correctional Facility on the morning of Thursday, August 24, 2023 and was released on a $10,000 bond.

If convicted, he faces up to one year in the Jefferson County Jail and a fine up to $4,000.

Gillam and his attorneys were made aware on Wednesday, August 23, 2023 that he had been named in a sealed indictment.

The Jefferson County District Attorney’s Office recused itself from the case and the district attorney’s office in Liberty was appointed as “pro tem” to prosecute the case according a statement from the Liberty County District Attorney’s office.

In the fall of 2022, the Texas Rangers began investigating an allegation against Gillam of a misdemeanor offense of official oppression related to sexual harassment according to the statement.

The indictment says Gillam subjected a female employee in his office "to sexual harassment by making unwelcome sexual advances, making requests for sexual favors, and physical conduct of a sexual nature, knowing that the advances or requests was not welcomed by the complainant."

Retired judge appointed to handle caseload of suspended Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III (3) Retired judge appointed to handle caseload of suspended Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III (4)

Credit: Jefferson County Sheriff's Office

The indictment also states that he was acting under "the color of his office or employment as a public servant."

“Given the nature of the charges against this public servant, and the facts presented, my office is committed to seeking justice for the victim and prosecuting this matter as it would in any other case," said Liberty County District Attorney Jennifer Bergman.

RELATED:Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III charged with official oppression charge related to sexual harassment of employee

Gillam III is not guilty., according to his attorney Layne Walker, Sr.

"I promise his voice is going to be heard. When the people hear the facts of this case Judge Gillam will be vindicated," Walker previously told 12News.

Walker, Sr. said "the indictment should put you on notice of what the claims are. there's absolutely nothing in this indictment that says that judge Gilliam did anything other than what the code alleges."

Walker Sr. said that Gilliam is "heartbroken over it as any person would be in this situation and it's humiliating."

Gillam has held office for nearly 20 years and as JP for Precinct Eight his office covers parts of Port Arthur, Port Acres and Sabine Pass. His office is at the sub-courthouse in downtown Port Arthur.

Judge Gillam III was appointed to the bench in April 2004 after then Judge Thurman Bartie was removed according to the Jefferson County Clerk's office.

He was then elected to office in 2006.

In late 2011 Gillam was accused of sexual assault by a 16-year-old girl who had appeared before him on a truancy charge according to file stories.

RELATED: JP Gillam "no-billed" on sexual assault charge

The case was sent to a grand jury but they “no billed” him and he did not go to trial on the charges.

“No billed” means that the grand jury found there was not enough evidence to support the girl’s allegations.

In February 2017 Gillam was wounded in Southeast Houston when he said a woman approached him asking for money while he was on the phone sitting in his car according to file stories.

RELATED: Jefferson County Justice of the Peace wounded, returns fire in overnight Houston shooting

He told police that at about the same time in his rear-view mirror he noticed a person approaching the back of his car while reaching for a gun.

Gillam pulled his own gun and when the person fired at him, he returned fire but it was unclear if he hit the person.

He was released from a Houston hospital a few days later.

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Retired judge appointed to handle caseload of suspended Justice of the Peace Tom Gillam III (2024)
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