Hillary Adams, who uploaded the video showing the 2004 beating, went on television in the US to explain why she had done it, and said it happened often when she was young.
Police have launched an investigation into whether her father, Aransas county court judge William Adams, committed an offence.
Hillary Adams, now 23, said she has received an outpouring of support and encouragement since posting the video last week. But her feelings were tempered by the sadness her father lashed her 17 times with a belt after threatening to beat her “into submission.”
Speaking to the Associated Press outside her mother’s home in the Gulf coast town of Portland, near Corpus Christi, she said: “I’m experiencing some regret because I just pulled the covers off my own father’s misbehaviour after so many people thought he was such a good person … But so many people are also telling me I did the right thing.”
“He’s supposed to be a judge who exercises fit judgment,” she said.
In an interview with NBC’s Today Show on Thursday, she said the attack was not a one-off. “It did happen regularly for a period of time,” she said.
In the same interview, her mother, Hallie Adams, blamed her ex-husband’s bouts of violence on his “addiction,” calling it a “family secret.” Their 22-year marriage ended in 2007.
Texas judge William Adams. Photograph: APThe judge did not return a reporter’s calls seeking comment early on Thursday.
Police in Rockport, where the 51-year-old judge lives, opened an investigation on Wednesday after receiving calls from several concerned citizens, Police chief Tim Jayroe said.
Aransas county sheriff Bill Mills said William Adams has been receiving threatening phone calls and faxes at the courthouse since the video went online.
No one answered the door on Wednesday at the judge’s home. A neighbour said she saw Adams and his girlfriend packing luggage, a briefcase and rifles into their truck.
Corpus Christi television station KZTV caught up with the judge while he was getting into his vehicle on Wednesday, and he confirmed it was him in the video. But he said it “looks worse than it is” and that he doesn’t expect to be disciplined.
“In my mind, I haven’t done anything wrong other than discipline my child after she was caught stealing,” Adams said. “And I did lose my temper, but I’ve since apologised.”
When told of her father’s comments, Hillary Adams said: “It’s a shining perfect example of his personality and he believes he can do no wrong … He will cover up rather than admit to what he did and try to come clean.”
She stressed that she did not post the video as revenge and does not want her father punished. Rather, she did it because she thinks it will force him to seek help, and because he has been harassing her and she thought posting the clip would make that stop.
“We need to reach out to victims and the abusers themselves to get people to realise what it actually is,” she said.
Hillary said she secretly videotaped the beating in her bedroom because she “knew something was about to happen.” She says her parents were angry at her for using her computer to download pirated content over the internet.
In the clip’s opening seconds, William Adams is heard telling Hillary’s mother, “Go get the belt. The big one. I’m going to spank her now.” With belt in hand, he turns off the light and tries forcing his daughter to bend over the bed to be beaten, but she refuses.
“Lay down or I’ll spank you in your fucking face,” Adams screams while he lashes her with sweeping blows across the legs, ignoring her wails and pleas for him to stop.
A screen grab of a YouTube video shows judge William Adams wielding a belt before beating his daughterA few minutes into the video, which on Thursday morning had been viewed more than 2m times, Hillary’s mother barks at her to “turn over like a 16-year-old and take it! Like a grown woman!” For about a minute, the ordeal appears to have ended after both parents leave the room and shut the door. But the judge then storms back into the room and the beating resumes.
Hallie Adams said she was “completely brainwashed and controlled” by her ex-husband.
“I did every single thing that he did,” she told NBC. Hillary Adams said she is not angry at her mother.
Child advocates roundly condemned the beating as abuse. But investigators may decide that the judge’s actions, while shocking, weren’t criminal.
David Finkelhor, a University of New Hampshire sociology professor who heads the school’s Crimes Against Children Research Center, said the lines between what is deemed child abuse and what is considered an acceptable level of discipline differ across the country and among various social groups, though the use of objects such as belts and sticks is usually seen as beyond any normal physical punishment.
Patrick Crimmins, a spokesman for the state Department of Family and Protective Services, said in an email that the agency is aware of the video and “will take the appropriate steps in this matter.” He said the agency would have no further comment.