A circuit judge under fire for freeing a rapist and blaming his victim for the attack Friday was granted his request to be relieved of all his criminal cases.

Seminole County Circuit Judge Kenneth Leffle, under pressure from Gov. Bob Martinez and women's rights groups, has refused calls for his resignation.However, he acknowledged the uproar Friday and wrote a one-sentence memorandum to the chief judge of his circuit, asking that he be shifted from criminal to civil cases.

"Due to the potential adverse effect of continued publicity about me on pending criminal cases, I request you temporarily reassign me to civil work," Leffler wrote.

Chief Circuit Judge O.H. Eaton Jr. responded with a two-sentence letter granting the request and an administrative order that shifted onto his own docket all of Leffler's criminal cases.

Eaton had no power to discipline Leffler and in an interview earlier this week, declined to pass judgment on Leffler's ruling or comments the judge made about the rape victim.

On Sept. 20, Leffler shocked the defense and prosecution by ignoring a plea bargain that called for confessed rapist David McCulloch, 36, to be sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison and 10 years probation.

Instead, Leffler placed McCulloch on two years probation, resulting in his release from jail that day, and said the victim was partly to blame.