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Police officers won't be let out of Thornsbury secretary's suit

Chris Dorst
Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman (left) consults with attorneys during a hearing Friday in the lawsuit filed by Kim Woodruff, the former secretary of ex-Mingo Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A judge on Friday refused to dismiss two police officers from a lawsuit filed by the former secretary of former Mingo County Judge Michael Thornsbury.

The lawsuit filed by Kim Woodruff against West Virginia State Police Trooper Brandon Moore and Gilbert Police Officer Nathan Glanden moved forward Friday after Kanawha Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman denied motions asking that the men be dismissed from the complaint.

Federal prosecutors have filed charges against Thornsbury, alleging that the judge plotted to land Woodruff's husband, Robert, in jail. Prosecutors say Moore and Glanden helped Thornsbury, although they were not charged.

In her lawsuit, Woodruff alleges that the former judge sexually harassed her, wrongly fired her and intentionally inflicted emotional distress.

Thornsbury says the lawsuit should be thrown out because a process server delivered the lawsuit to a house where Thornsbury had moved out two days earlier and gave the lawsuit to Thornsbury's wife, who is divorcing him. Kaufman didn't rule on that Friday.

The ex-judge says that on Oct. 5, process server Benjamin Cisco tried to serve him with the lawsuit at his former residence in Williamson. Thornsbury was not there, so the summons and complaint were left with his wife, Dreama Thornsbury.

"He lives in Williamson, they know where he lives, they had until Jan. 28," said William Slicer, Thornsbury's attorney. "He goes out and about, eats at restaurants, shops at Walmart. I don't know what their problem is -- we're trying to follow the rules."

Richard Neely, Kim Woodruff's attorney, said, "If he didn't have notice, Mr. Slicer wouldn't be here."

The judge told Neely that Thornsbury was "walking all around Charleston," but Neely said Thornsbury was purposely trying to avoid being served with the lawsuit.

"He snuck out the back of the federal building" after his plea hearing last month, Neely said. In that hearing, Thornsbury pleaded guilty to a different charge -- conspiring to deprive a drug dealer of his constitutional rights. If a federal judge accepts the plea deal, prosecutors will drop the earlier charge against Thornsbury involving Kim Woodruff and her husband.

Thornsbury was indicted in August on a charge of violating Robert Woodruff's rights by trying to put him in jail on trumped-up charges. Prosecutors allege Thornsbury wanted Robert Woodruff out of the picture so that Kim Woodruff would be forced to be with the judge for financial reasons.

Robert Woodruff has sued many of the same people and agencies as his wife, but in federal court.

To put Robert Woodruff in jail, federal prosecutors allege, Thornsbury put his business partner, Jarrod Fletcher, in charge of a Mingo County grand jury; tried to persuade a close friend, Jeff Cline, to plant drugs in Woodruff's truck; and had Moore and Glanden wrongfully arrest Woodruff.

Neither Kim Woodruff nor any of the people she's suing attended the hearing. Nine lawyers sat opposite Neely.

Thornsbury is being sued individually and in his official capacity -- essentially another way of suing the state. Moore and Glanden also are being sued both ways, as is Fletcher, who was Mingo County's director of homeland security as well as Thornsbury's business partner.

Both lawsuits also name Col. Jay Smithers, commander of the West Virginia State Police, and Steve Canterbury, administrator of the West Virginia Supreme Court, as defendants in their official capacities, but not as individuals.

Mingo County commissioners are being sued in their official capacity. Jeff Cline is being sued individually.

Others being sued have also filed motions to dismiss that have not been addressed yet.

On Friday, Glanden's employer, the city of Gilbert, was released from the lawsuit. The city stipulated Glanden was covered by the city's insurance policy, according to Neely.

"Gilbert offered to stipulate they have an insurance policy that covers Glanden for all of his evil acts," Neely said after the hearing.

Victor Flanagan, Moore's attorney, argued that claims against his client made by Kimberly Woodruff wouldn't stand.

"There's no nexus between the actions alleged against Trooper Moore that relate to [Kimberly] Woodruff," Flanagan said. Neely told the judge, however, that Moore was an "integral part of the scheme."

Billie Jo Streyle, Glanden's attorney, told the judge that her client was following orders from Thornsbury when he arrested Woodruff. Neely answered that if Glanden would have investigated the case, he would have known Woodruff shouldn't have been charged.

Kaufman called attorneys to the bench and told them to have proposed orders to him in about a week, Neely said after the hearing.

Reach Kate White at kate.white@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.


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