CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Former Mingo County circuit judge Michael Thornsbury on Thursday cited his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent in a response to a lawsuit filed against him.
Robert Woodruff is suing Thornsbury and other state and county agencies and officials in U.S. District Court, alleging malicious prosecution, false arrest and wrongful imprisonment.
Thornsbury was indicted in August on charges that he violated Woodruff's rights by trying to land him in jail on trumped-up charges. Prosecutors say Thornsbury wanted Robert Woodruff out of the picture so that Kim Woodruff, Thornsbury's former secretary, would be forced to be with the judge for financial reasons.
To put Robert Woodruff in jail, 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 State Police Trooper Brandon Moore and Gilbert Police Officer Nathan Glanden wrongfully arrest Woodruff.
Thornsbury stepped down as judge before pleading guilty to a separate federal charge in October. If U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston accepts his guilty plea and sentences him in April, the charges dealing with Robert Woodruff will be dropped.
The sentencing was moved to April after federal prosecutors requested more time to talk to Thornsbury, who they say is providing them with information.
In his response filed Thursday, Thornsbury also cites his ongoing cooperation with federal prosecutors as to why he should be allowed to remain silent about the allegations in Robert Woodruff's lawsuit.
Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge John Copenhaver refused Thornsbury's attempt to throw out the lawsuit because the ex-judge wasn't properly served with the complaint. Thornsbury said the complaint was served at his former house to his wife, who is divorcing him.
Kim Woodruff filed her lawsuit in Kanawha Circuit Court. She claims the judge sexually harassed her, wrongly fired her and intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her.
Her case has been assigned to Circuit Judge Tod Kaufman, who refused last month to dismiss her lawsuit for the same reasons Copenhaver refused to dismiss her husband's federal lawsuit.
Reach Kate White at kate.wh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.