Hornbuckle Gets 15-Year Sentence for Sexual Assaults
The Associated Press, carried in The Dallas Morning News [Fort Worth TX]
August 29, 2006
A jury sentenced the Rev. Terry Hornbuckle to 15 years in prison Monday afternoon for sexually assaulting three women, including two who attended his Agape Christian Fellowship in Arlington.
Hornbuckle, the 44-year-old founder of the church, was also ordered to pay a $10,000 fine for each assault conviction.
Hornbuckle did not show any reaction as he was sentenced to 14 years for one sexual assault, 10 years for another and 15 years for the third. The sentences will run concurrently.
Hornbuckle attorney Mike Heiskell said his client was "depressed and down" about the sentence.
Jurors "carefully reviewed all the evidence, and we have to accept it," Heiskell said in a story in Monday's online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
"This was what we expected from the beginning," said prosecutor Sean Colston. "We thought the evidence was strong and, apparently, the jury agreed with us."
A jury of nine women and three men deliberated 33 1/2 hours over six days before convicting Hornbuckle of three charges of sexual assault on Aug. 22.
One of the former church members testified during the trial that Hornbuckle used their religious counseling sessions to initiate sex with her on several occasions in 2003. It's a crime in Texas for a clergyman to take advantage of a parishioner's trust for sex.
Heiskell and defense attorney Leon Haley suggested during cross-examinations that the accusers either had consensual sex with Hornbuckle or were lying to win money in a civil settlement.
Prosecutors argued that Hornbuckle repeatedly abused his authority, drugs and the women around him.
During the trial, defense 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.
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 and told her that he and T.D. Jakes, pastor of The Potter's House in Dallas, were working with Hornbuckle on his problems.
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