NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A state judge has been suspended without pay for 15 days for ending probation early for a sex offender who was in a choir directed by the judge.

The Louisiana Supreme Court cut in half the suspension recommended by the state Judiciary Commission for 18th District Judge James Best, who held a probation hearing for Antonio Garcia without notifying prosecutors who handled the case.

Two justices dissented, saying the penalty was too lenient.

Garcia had pleaded guilty to indecent behavior with a juvenile, for emails and texts exchanged with a 16-year-old cheerleader at the school where he was assistant cheerleading coach.

The ruling says Best reinstated Garcia's probation at the request of the state attorney general's office. That request was filed the day of a news report about the termination.


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