PONTIAC, Mich. -- A retired judge accused of leading a double life with his wife and three children and a second woman who bore him nine children has been barred from hearing cases as a visiting judge.
The action against former Oakland County Circuit Judge William Beer was taken Wednesday by the administrator of the Michigan Supreme Court on the advice of the state Judicial Tenure Commission.
Beer, 74, receives a $19,965 annual pension from the state.
'Beer is not being given any more (visiting judge) assignments,' administrator Harold Hoag said.
It was not immediately clear if the action was the result of his double life or of his controversial decision in a Kalamazoo case last year that allowed a convicted rapist to go free.
Hoag refused to elaborate on the decision other than to say it was entirely 'based on my own judgment.' He said the tenure commission's report is 'confidential unless a formal complaint is filed.'
Charges that Beer led a double life with two families during his 22 years on the bench were raised in a complaint filed last November by Phyllis Rapaport, 66, whose 1972 divorce was heard by Beer.
'I watched Beer for over two years in the courtroom and he has a long career of definite bias against women in divorce and custody matters,' Ms. Rapaport said Wednesday.
In a copyright interview in the Oakland Press, Beer's first wife of 49 years, Dora, described how her ex-huxband split his time between his legal family in Berkley and his secret life in Detroit.
'He had such good alibis,' Mrs. Beer told the newspaper. 'He was busy with the Masons, he was busy with the Democrats. He was a busy man.'
Beer's relationship with the woman who is now his second wife, Barbara Santimo, apparently began in 1946 in Rogers City where he had a law practice. Ms. Santimo, then 19, was his secretary. He later moved to Marquette and then to Berkley while Ms. Santimo moved to Detroit. He finally divorced Dora Beers and married Ms. Santimo in 1979.
Detroit News columnist Matt Beer, one of Beer's nine children by Ms. Santimo, said it 'was only a matter of time before this came out.
'This has been an open secret and one of the worst-kept ones in town for some time,' he said. 'It's actually a major exercise in ax-grinding. I think Dora running off to a newspaper with all of this is an indication of why he left her in the first place.'
In the Kalamazoo case, Beer, serving as a visiting judge last September, delayed the sentencing of convicted rapist Mark Alexander 'to see how he would act in society.' The sentencing delay angered feminists and prosecutors alike.
Beer left the Oakland County bench in 1980.