Wednesday, February 09, 2005


By Stockton

Not much to add here.

Judge's Career Ended by Claims of On-Bench Masturbation

Jurors and others in Judge Donald Thompson's courtroom kept hearing a strange whooshing noise, like a bicycle pump or maybe a blood pressure cuff. During one trial, Thompson seemed so distracted that some jurors thought he was playing a handheld video game or tying fly-fishing lures behind the bench.
The explanation, investigators say, is even stranger than some imagined: The judge had a habit of masturbating with a penis pump under his robe during trials.

The lurid allegations have brought an embarrassing end to a solid career and shocked many of his colleagues. The case could also lead to a wave of appeals from defendants claiming that the judge was not paying attention while presiding over their cases.

Thompson, a 58-year-old married father of three grown children, has denied the allegations, and he said the pump was just a gag gift received from a friend on his 50th birthday. He retired in August after being threatened with removal but now faces indecent-exposure charges brought against him last month.

"We're certainly saddened by the thought that the prosecutor filed charges," said Clark Brewster, Thompson's attorney. "We thought all this was dealt with when he resigned. We didn't feel like anything that was alleged rose to the level of criminal charges."

The trials during which he allegedly used the pump included murder cases as well as a libel suit.

Oklahoma Attorney General Drew Edmondson, who filed the paperwork to remove Thompson from the bench, said he would be surprised if the scandal did not lead to appeals. "I don't know if they will be successful. They will still have to show actual prejudice to the point that something was done in error," he said.

Police built a case against the judge after a police officer testified during a 2003 murder trial. From the witness stand, the officer saw a piece of plastic tubing disappear under Thompson's robe. During a lunch break, officers took photographs of the pump under the desk.

Investigators later collected carpet samples, Thompson's robes and the chair from behind the bench and found semen, according to court records.
Thompson's court reporter, Lisa Foster, told authorities that she saw him use the pump at least 10 times during trials. She told The Associated Press that the first time in court was in 2000, but she said nothing at the time for fear of retaliation.

Foster told authorities she saw Thompson use the device almost daily during the August 2003 murder trial of Kevin Vomberg, a man accused of shaking a toddler to death. The case ended in a hung jury. The whooshing sound could be heard on Foster's audiotape of the trial.

When jurors at the trial asked the judge about the sound, Thompson said he hadn't heard it, but would listen for it.

"I always thought he was an excellent trial judge," said Don I. Nelson, a prosecutor who tried more than 40 cases before Thompson, including a murder trial during which authorities say Thompson used the pump. "I was completely shocked and couldn't believe it."

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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