Defiant and often confrontational, Robert Thornburgh Jr. told a 35th District Court jury Wednesday morning that allegations that he sexually abused four teeange girls are a conspiracy of lies.
The lies were intended to hurt him and bolster one of his daughters in a custody dispute involving Thornburgh, that daughter and the daughter's son — Thornburgh's grandson — in a now-resolved custody issue, Thornburgh testified.
Thornburgh and his daughter had been involved in a tug-of-war in court as each vied for custody of the child, according to testimony.
Thornburgh is standing trial on two counts of sexual assault of a child stemming from allegations that Thornburgh, 45, had sexual relations in 2006 with his then-14-year-old girlfriend. Thornburgh maintains he had tried to help the girl, who had a troubled home life, but that he did not have a dating or sexual relationship with her.
On Tuesday, jurors heard testimony pertaining to alleged sexual relations with only that girl. On Wednesday, the focus abruptly changed when prosecutor Sam Moss was allowed to let jurors know that Thornburgh faces allegations that he sexually abused three other girls. Thornburgh has been indicted on those allegations.
Outside the jury's presence Wednesday morning, Moss argued before District Judge Steve Ellis that Thornburgh had opened the door because he testified Tuesday that he treated the 14-year-old girl the same way he treated his daughters. Moss argued that Thornburgh's statement was grounds for impeachment because of the allegations contained in some of the indictments Thornburgh faces.
Over the objections of defense attorney Rudy Taylor, Ellis ruled that jurors could hear about those allegations.
Taylor introduced evidence that one of the girls had made several outcries against Thornburgh and that CPS investigators had found the outcries to be unfounded.
"At no point in time have I touched any of them kids," Thornburgh testified, insisting repeatedly that all of the girls who made allegations are lying.
Moss was also allowed to ask Thornburgh about his confrontation with another jail inmate, David Ortega, in a dispute over a Harry Potter book on May 3. Thornburgh is alleged to have knocking Ortega down. Ortega sustained a head injury and was flown out by helicopter ambulance.
"It was a reflex action on my part after I had been assaulted," Thornburgh testified.
Ellis called a lunch recess at 11:40 a.m., and testimony was to resume at 12:40 p.m.