After calling out Charlie Strong over USF player arrests, judge recuses herself from case

The judge who made headlines for criticizing Charlie Strong during a hearing that followed the arrest of a USF football player has recused herself from the case.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, Hillsborough County (Fla.) Judge Margaret Taylor, who was presiding over the legal proceedings for Bulls defensive end LaDarrius Jackson, voluntarily removed herself from the case after video of her comments to Strong and Jackson spread across the news. On Wednesday morning, Taylor said during a preliminary hearing that she was “embarrassed and ashamed” to be a USF alum after the recent arrests of Jackson, who is accused of sexual battery, and Hassan Childs, who was kicked off the team after an arrest for assault.

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Taylor said if the allegations against Jackson prove to be true, his conduct was “nothing short of outrageous.” She then turned her attention to Strong, who was hired in December after being fired by Texas.

“I have a message for your coach, as well. Coach Strong, if you are listening, in the last couple of months there have been two arrests of your players for very violent felonies,” Taylor said. “This court, and I’m sure I’m not alone, questions whether you have control over your players. It’s fairly clear 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.”

Charlie Strong spent three years as Texas’ head coach and is now at USF. (Getty)
Charlie Strong spent three years as Texas’ head coach and is now at USF. (Getty)

Thursday morning, per the Times, Taylor moved to “voluntarily disqualify herself” from the case:

By Thursday morning, Judge Taylor issued an order voluntarily disqualifying herself from the case, citing a state judicial rule about a defendant fearing he won’t get a fair hearing because of “prejudice or bias of the judge.” Through her judicial assistant, she declined to comment Thursday morning.

After the comments made the rounds Wednesday, Strong — who, it should be noted, did not recruit either of the arrested players — issued a statement of his own.

“In the short time I have been here our program has been built on character, discipline and family,” Strong said. “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.”

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Sam Cooper is a writer for the Yahoo Sports blogs. Have a tip? Email him or follow him on Twitter!

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