Jury Convicts Pastor on Three Sex Assault Charges

The Associated Press, carried in The Dallas Morning News [Fort Worth TX]
August 22, 2006

After almost five days of deliberations, jurors on Tuesday convicted the Rev. Terry Hornbuckle of sexually assaulting three women.

Defense attorneys for the founder of Agape Christian Fellowship in Arlington said that while he did commit adultery, he did not rape the women.

Though they didn't call any witnesses, Hornbuckle's attorneys entered into evidence a letter of support from NFL career rushing leader Emmitt Smith. The former Dallas Cowboys star had written to a Tarrant County grand jury that Hornbuckle was "an honest and trustworthy man" and a "true role model for our family." Smith wrote that Hornbuckle had done premarital counseling for him and his wife.

During the trial, the mother of one of the women Hornbuckle was convicted of assaulting told jurors that former Cowboy Deion Sanders urged her not to report the rape allegations. Loretta Sheppard testified that Sanders told her that he and T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, were working with Hornbuckle on his problems.

One accuser testified that Hornbuckle drugged and raped her inside a Euless apartment in July 2004. A second woman testified that counseling sessions with the minister turned sexual at least five times in 2003.

The third woman, the only accuser not affiliated with Hornbuckle's church, testified that he drugged and raped her after they smoked methamphetamine together in 2004.

Hornbuckle, 44, faces up to 20 years in prison on each charge.


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