CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Mingo County couple allegedly targeted by suspended Mingo County Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury filed a pair of lawsuits against the judge and others Monday.
Attorneys for Robert and Kim Woodruff filed the lawsuits in federal and state court alleging the violation of constitutional rights and wrongful termination. The suits name several individuals and state agencies as defendants.
Kim Woodruff was the judge’s secretary and a federal indictment alleges the two had a romantic relationship but the judge wanted more. When she broke it off the judge went after her husband. Robert Woodruff was arrested twice and indicted by a Mingo County grand jury that was allegedly set up by the judge.
The Woodruffs’ attorneys Mike Callaghan and Richard Neely both said during a Monday afternoon news conference the actions by the judge and others at his bidding are the worst in the state’s judicial history.
“This is the single most outrageous breach of judicial conduct, judicial ethics. It is utterly and completely beyond anything imaginable in this state,” Neely, a former West Virginia Supreme Court justice, said.
Callaghan said Robert Woodruff was afraid to step out of his home for five years.
“He lived under fear that at any moment he could be arrested and sent to jail for crimes that he did not commit and he was arrested two times for crimes he did not commit,” Callaghan said.
Neely said Kim Woodruff was under pressure from Judge Thornsbury to have a more serious relationship. He said she feared losing her job and tried to ”finesse” the relationship with the judge but Neely said she did not have a consensual sexual relationship with him.
“Was there forced hugging? Was there forced kissing? Yes, quite conceivably and that will all come out in depositions. But was there a sexual relationship or an affair? Absolutely not,” according to Neely.
The lawsuits also name State Trooper Brandon Moore, Mingo County Homeland Security Director Jarrod Fletcher and Gilbert police officer Nathan Glanden. Callaghan said they could have stopped Judge Thornsbury but did not.
“All three of those individuals took an oath to uphold the constitution and all three failed in their duty to do so,” he said.
Neely said Moore, Fletcher and Glanden got a free pass because they cooperated with federal prosecutors and testified before a federal grand jury. He said they now need to pay for their actions.
“This lawsuit is the one opportunity that the citizens of this state have to punish those people because they cut a deal and walked out after utterly reprehensible conduct…scot-free,” Neely said.
Thornsbury is scheduled to plead guilty Wed. to other federal charges and the indictment involving the Woodruffs will be dismissed. Callaghan said that would have no bearing on the civil lawsuits.
Callaghan added the insurance company representing the state had initial conversations with him about possible settlements but pulled back last week because of the numerous state agencies named in connection with the lawsuits.