FORT WORTH – A Tarrant County jury on Tuesday convicted Arlington pastor Terry Hornbuckle on all counts of rape charges involving three young women, including two members of his church.
The jury deliberated nearly 34 hours before reaching the verdict, and was expected to begin the punishment phase Tuesday afternoon. Mr. Hornbuckle is facing two to 20 years in prison, but he could also be eligible for probation.
The prosecution spent six days building a case against Mr. Hornbuckle, founder of Agape Christian Fellowship church. The defense rested without calling a witness.
Prosecutors said Mr. Hornbuckle used his position as a respected and successful preacher to prey on women’s weaknesses. In two cases, Mr. Hornbuckle was accused of drugging women before he raped them; the third woman said she was drugged but there was no rape at that time.
All three women said they believed they were drugged, and one of them tested positive for a class of drug that can cause drowsiness and amnesia. Two said they awoke to find themselves naked with Mr. Hornbuckle either in bed with them or nearby.
The women also testified that Mr. Hornbuckle gave them money and gifts, and in some cases, intimidated them into not telling anyone.
Defense attorney Leon Haley said in his closing argument that his client was caught up in the “raptures of sin,” but argued that the sex between Mr. Hornbuckle and the women was consensual. Defense attorneys during cross-examination questioned the motives of the women, trying to show that they were either willing participants or only looking to profit from a successful minister with a weakness for women and drugs. Mr. Hornbuckle has been sued in civil court by the women, who are seeking damages.
The trial also mentioned some big names, including former Dallas Cowboys Emmitt Smith and Deion Sanders and Potter’s House pastor T.D. Jakes. Mr. Sanders and Mr. Jakes were on the witness list for the prosecution, but were never called.
Mr. Sanders’ name came up when the mother of one of the accusers testified that Mr. Sanders called her and asked her not to go to the police because he and Mr. Jakes were trying to help Mr. Hornbuckle.
And Mr. Smith’s name surfaced in a letter he wrote to a Tarrant County grand jury in February 2005. Mr. Smith called Mr. Hornbuckle “an honest and trustworthy man.” The letter was introduced by the defense after the prosecution presented letters from the Dallas Cowboys and the National Football League to show that Mr. Hornbuckle lied when he said he was an adviser to Dallas Cowboys rookies and had played in the NFL.