Terry Hornbuckle: Lawyer says pastor is being framed for rape

FORT WORTH – In a barrage of accusatory questions, an attorney for Arlington pastor Terry Hornbuckle suggested that one of his accusers was a flirt who could have made up a rape charge to get a multimillion-dollar settlement.

Attorney Mike Heiskell spent Thursday in court trying to discredit the woman, also asking her whether she purchased drugs in Deep Ellum and ingested them so she would later test positive for a date rape drug.

“You set him up, didn’t you?” Mr. Heiskell demanded.

“I didn’t set him up,” she said.

The woman, a 23-year-old former member of Agape Christian Fellowship, insisted that Mr. Hornbuckle drugged and raped her at a Euless apartment he rented to have sex with women.

Mr. Heiskell noted that the woman’s earlier grand jury testimony said: “I’m going to be honest. Not one time did I say ‘no.’ “

Prosecutor Sean Colston said the woman’s testimony did indicate that she told Mr. Hornbuckle “don’t” when he held her down on a bed.

Mr. Hornbuckle faces charges in this trial that he sexually assaulted three women, two of them church members. Other charges of sexual assault, possession of methamphetamine, tampering with a witness and retaliation are pending against him. He and his church are also facing lawsuits from the women accusing him of rape.

The first accuser testified for nearly eight hours Wednesday and Thursday.

Mr. Heiskell pointed out that the accuser was aware of rumors that Mr. Hornbuckle was having affairs with several members of the congregation.

In his opening statement Wednesday, Mr. Heiskell said the woman was going out on a date with Mr. Hornbuckle, not having an innocent meeting with her pastor, as she claimed.

The defense also showed the jury the woman’s panties from the night of the alleged rape. They had a smiley face on them and said “Flirt, Flirt, Flirt. I just can’t help it.”

The defense pointed out that the woman’s civil attorney, G. Lee Finley, had requested a $2 million settlement before his client made the rape allegations to police.

The woman testified that she was unaware of the settlement request, and Mr. Finley said the offer was made at the urging of Mr. Hornbuckle’s church.

The accuser’s girlfriend also testified Thursday that after the woman’s encounter with Mr. Hornbuckle, she was “crying and spitting.” Alicia Cato told the jury that her friend wouldn’t tell her why she was upset.

Defense attorney Leon Haley asked Ms. Cato whether she knew what was troubling her girlfriend. She said the woman wouldn’t tell her and didn’t say at the time that it had to do with Mr. Hornbuckle.

Mr. Finley was also told by the judge that he could not sit in on the remainder of the trial. During a response about the settlement offer, he pointed at Mr. Hornbuckle and called him the “man that brutally raped her.”

The testimony – which state district Judge Scott Wisch described as a tirade – was made outside the presence of the jury.

In addition, a member of the audience was chastised by the judge for trying to pass a note to the defense attorneys that read: “Non-responsive. Make her answer.”

Judge Wisch said he would reschedule a hearing that had been planned for tomorrow about whether a clergy exemption would prevent popular minister T.D. Jakes and former Dallas Cowboys star Deion Sanders from testifying.

Mr. Hornbuckle’s trial will resume Tuesday.

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(Listed if other than Religion News Blog, or if not shown above)
Dallas Morning News, USA
Aug. 4, 2006
Jeff Mosier

Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday August 5, 2006.
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