CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury's former secretary and her husband filed lawsuits Monday against the judge and several other public officials and agencies.
Robert and Kim Woodruff filed separate lawsuits alleging Thornsbury abused his power as the county's only circuit judge.
Thornsbury was indicted in August on charges that claim he violated the rights of Robert Woodruff by trying to land him in jail on trumped-up charges.
Robert Woodruff filed a lawsuit Monday in U.S. District Court, alleging malicious prosecution, false arrest and wrongful imprisonment.
Kim Woodruff, the judge's former secretary, filed her lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court. She claims the judge sexually harassed her, wrongly fired her and intentionally inflicted emotional distress. Her case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman.
Thornsbury is scheduled to plead guilty Wednesday to a different federal charge. Prosecutors have said they will drop the charge involving the Woodruffs as part of Thornsbury's plea bargain.
Mike Callaghan, who represents the Woodruffs, said dropping those charges won't hurt his client's cases.
Besides the judge, both of the Woodruffs' lawsuits named Steve Canterbury in his capacity as administrator of the state Supreme Court (because the court oversaw Thornsbury), as well as State Police Col. Jay Smithers in his capacity as State Police superintendent, the Mingo County Commission and the city of Gilbert.
Talks with the state's insurance carrier on Friday to attempt to reach an agreement before the lawsuits were filed weren't successful, Callaghan said.
"The carrier indicated they didn't believe the mediation would be appropriate at this time," he said.
Kim Woodruff worked for Thornsbury from 1997 to 2009. In 2008, she became administrative assistant to the judge, according to her lawsuit. That's when he allegedly began sexually harassing her and trying to coerce her into a sexual relationship.
She refused, the lawsuit states.
"The U.S. Attorney's office was correct to say it was an intimate physical relationship, but that did not go as far as sex," Callaghan said. "She had a nice job and was trying to go along with him just to get through it hoping it would go away. When she really told him no is when he went berserk."
According to her lawsuit, Thornsbury professed his love to her in a letter "and told her the two of them were meant to be together forever" and that she would "realize this someday."
Thornsbury also told Woodruff that her husband was a drug dealer and was cheating on her, her lawsuit states. The judge allegedly told her that if her husband were ever arrested, he would fire her, and that the only way to keep her job was to have a sexual relationship with him.
"By the standards of Mingo County," the complaint states, "plaintiff had an excellent job with excellent health and retirement benefits and plaintiff was reluctant to forgo the salary and benefits even in the face of a hostile work environment."
The lawsuits echo federal charges against Thornsbury, in which prosecutors allege that he began plotting to get Robert Woodruff out of the picture.