A couple allegedly harassed by Mingo Circuit Judge Michael Thornsbury filed civil lawsuits Monday against the judge and several other officials.
Attorney Mike Callaghan and his legal partner, former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard Neely, filed separate lawsuits Monday on behalf of Robert and Kim Woodruff.
"This is the single most outrageous breach of judicial conduct, judicial ethics. It is utterly and completely beyond anything imaginable in this state," Neely said Monday afternoon during a joint press conference from the office the attorneys share.
"The conscious, deliberate orchestrating of a malicious and totally groundless prosecution gives such a terrible, terrible image of the judicial system that it is almost beyond comprehension."
Neely filed a lawsuit on behalf of Kim Woodruff in Kanawha Circuit Court. Callaghan filed a lawsuit on behalf of Robert Woodruff in the southern district of West Virginia's federal court.
The Woodruffs allege a lengthy list of misdeeds, ranging from gross negligence to false imprisonment. They are seeking monetary damages.
A federal indictment against Thornsbury and other Mingo County officials has opened a floodgate of accusations involving the county.
In August, the office of U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin accused Thornsbury of repeatedly attempting to frame Robert Woodruff after Kim Woodruff called off a romantic relationship with the judge.
The indictment also accuses several other officials - including two law enforcement officers and an employee of the Mingo County Commission - of conspiring to help Thornsbury in his vendetta against Robert Woodruff.
Soon after the indictment, Callaghan said he'd followed the law and informed state agencies to expect a civil lawsuit. State officials tried to negotiate a settlement, but Callaghan said they told him Friday the parties hit an impasse.
The two lawsuits closely follow the accusations outlined in the federal indictment against Thornsbury. However, Monday's lawsuits state Kim Woodruff pushed aside repeated advances from the judge.
The lawsuits claim Thornsbury wrote a love letter to Kim Woodruff, told her they were meant to be together forever, tried to sully Robert Woodruff and threatened Kim Woodruff's job as his secretary if she didn't have sex with him.
The federal indictment states Thornsbury and Kim Woodruff "engaged in intimate physical contact" in the first half of 2008.
"Was there forced hugging? Was there forced kissing? Yes, quite conceivably," Neely said, adding more details will come out after interviews with everyone involved.
"But was there a sexual relationship or an affair? Absolutely not."
Neely, at times shaking and raising his voice, described a desperate situation for Kim Woodruff.
Millions of women face similar problems every day, he said. Threatened by the idea of losing a well-paying job with benefits, Kim Woodruff felt forced to appease certain aspects of the judge's sexual passes, Neely said.
"When someone like Judge Thornsbury put his arm around her or attempted to kiss her, it's pretty hard to say, 'Get away, don't do that' and jeopardize your job," Neely said.
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