Dec. trial set for lawsuit against ex-Mingo judge

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - A lawsuit alleging former Mingo County Circuit Court Judge Michael Thornsbury sexually harassed and wrongfully fired his secretary is scheduled to go to trial in December.

Judge Tod Kaufman set a Dec. 15 trial date for Kim Woodruff’s lawsuit during a hearing Wednesday in Kanawha County Circuit Court, media outlets reported.

Thornsbury pleaded guilty last October to federal charges of conspiring to deprive a convicted drug dealer of his constitutional rights. He resigned from the bench and is scheduled to be sentenced April 21.

Thornsbury and former Mingo County prosecutor Michael Sparks were charged with protecting the late Sheriff Eugene Crum from revelations that Crum bought drugs from George White, a campaign sign maker. Authorities said Sparks and Thornsbury kept White from talking to the FBI about Crum, who was killed in an unrelated shooting in April 2013.

Sparks pleaded guilty last year to depriving White of his constitutional rights. He will be sentenced later this year.

Kaufman said a deposition from Thornsbury in the civil case can wait until after he is sentenced. Thornsbury’s lawyers had requested the delay.

William Slicer, who represents Thornsbury in the civil case, and Steve Jory, who represents him in the criminal case, both said the federal judge could consider Thornsbury’s responses in the civil case when he is sentenced.

“It’s the appearance, your honor,” Jory said. “He has been cooperating with federal authorities.”

Slicer also presented a motion to dismiss Woodruff’s lawsuit, saying the statute of limitation ran out because the sexual harassment allegations happened more than two years ago.

Richard Neely, one of Woodruff’s lawyers, said Kim found about the alleged plot to fire her after the criminal investigation by U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kaufman did not rule on the motion.

In exchange for Thornsbury’s guilty plea in the criminal case, federal prosecutors said they would dismiss charges against him in a separate criminal case in which the judge was accused of repeatedly trying to frame Woodruff’s husband, Robert Woodruff, for false crimes to eliminate him as a romantic rival.

Robert Woodruff has filed a lawsuit against Thornsbury in federal court alleging malicious prosecution, false arrest and wrongful imprisonment.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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