Among other ailments, allegedly oversexed former Wayne County Magistrate Tommy Toler admits he has a "very serious emotional and stress problem."
The judge recently was forced off the bench amidst accusations he alternately harassed, flashed and demanded sexual favors from women who had cases before him. In one infamous instance, Toler allegedly fondled a divorcee just minutes after awarding her home to her husband. She had four hours to remove her belongings.
Toler beat criminal charges of sexual abuse and bribery. But back in December, the West Virginia Supreme Court suspended him for four years regardless. Considering the magnitude of the charges against him, it didn't want Toler presiding over a courtroom ever again.
Still, so poignant was Toler's cry for empathy, in which he and a handful of local physicians carefully footnoted his life as a moody, depressed and overweight judge with a bad back, high cholesterol, carpal tunnel syndrome and diabetes, that tears were almost shed here at The Record.
In the end we kept our composure, however, not because we are a heartless, cynical, journalistic bunch, but rather because we finally realized Toler, age 62, wasn't sobbing to us.
His dramatics were laser-directed at members of West Virginia's Consolidated Public Retirement Board, who had the power to hand Toler some walking away money if he could just touch their hearts.
He did. Now the ex-judge will collect $1,308 per month in "disability retirement."
If you thought "disability" was for folks unable to work due to illness or injury, welcome to the club. We didn't think "disciplinary suspension" would be an applicable malady, either.
In this case, it actually wasn't. West Virginia law says disability retirement benefits are reserved for judges who become "physically or mentally incapacitated" while in office. Toler was somehow able to make the case he was both, arguing that health issues would have prevented him from fulfilling his term, sex charges notwithstanding.
We're not buying it, and we think West Virginians should be none too pleased that Toler's case has so lowered the bar for qualification as "disabled." Surely thousands of state employees are obese and moody at times. Will copycat opportunists see to it to follow the good judge's lead?
We'll be on watch. And for Tommy Toler, laid-up and on the mend, you might be as well. The golf course is no place for a man in his condition.