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Judge takes self off case after jest about rape victim

A judge who made a disparaging comment about a rape victim apologized Thursday and removed himself from the case.

"The remarks were inappropriate," Circuit Judge Gene Stephenson said. "It's something I've never done before and won't do again." He said he hoped the victim accepted his apology.

Court transcripts showed Stephenson, 70, said, "Why would he want to rape her? She doesn't look like a day at the beach."

He was looking at a photo of the beaten and bruised victim Monday as attorneys were discussing a plea deal for Brian Joseph Huffman.

Huffman, 26, of Winter Park, is charged with raping, beating, kidnapping and robbing the 57-year-old woman on New Year's Eve 2002 or the next morning.

The victim, who was not at the hearing, was angry when she heard about Stephenson's comment and said she planned to file a complaint with the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.

"Apparently, he is a very insensitive judge," she said.