Judge Donald Thompson says allegations against him were politically motivated

Friday, August 20th 2004, 5:27 pm
By: News On 6

TULSA, Okla. (AP) _ The former Creek County judge accused of sexual impropriety on the bench denied the allegations Friday, dismissing them as an elaborate scheme cooked up by an angry Sapulpa police chief.

Donald D. Thompson, surrounded by his wife, three children and members of his extended family, said Sapulpa police Chief Jim Wall has long held a grudge against the judge over ``civil rights rulings'' in criminal cases.

Wall declined to comment and referred all phone calls to Patrick M. Ryan, the former U.S. attorney appointed as prosecutor in the effort to remove Thompson from the judiciary. Ryan did not immediately return a phone call.

``The allegations against me are sensational and hurtful to me and especially to my family,'' Thompson said. ``They are so outlandish and sensational that they gain credibility because people want to believe the bizarre.''

Thompson denied accusations that he used a penis pump, masturbated and exposed his genitals while seated at the bench. He said the penis pump was a gag gift that he innocently left at his desk.

``My court reporter never had a conversation with me about the item she saw, and assumed the worst, that it was a genuine article that I was using,'' said Thompson, who read from a prepared statement.

The judge, speaking slowly in a clear voice, said the court reporter's story spread like gossip before Wall allegedly used it in a conspiracy to get Thompson removed from office.

Lisa K. Foster, Thompson's former court reporter who could not immediately be reached, told investigators she witnessed Thompson's alleged sexual behavior numerous times, according to court documents.

Thompson resigned Wednesday effective Sept. 1 after nearly 23 years on the Creek County bench. Ryan promptly withdrew the case without prejudice. His trial was scheduled for Sept. 13.

In June, Attorney General Drew Edmondson filed an ouster petition with the state Court on the Judiciary accusing Thompson of the improper conduct. Thompson had been under investigation by the Oklahoma Council on Judicial Complaints since 2003.

In addition to the misconduct allegations, sexually explicit photographs and e-mail were found on the Oklahoma State Courts Network computer assigned to Thompson, according to Administrative Office of the Courts.

Clark Brewster, Thompson's attorney, said his client had no knowledge of any sexually explicit material on his state-issued computer. Thompson said he never had an e-mail address on the Internet domain those messages used.

Thompson said he had been planning to retire in August for at least two years, but almost didn't after the allegations surfaced. He became eligible for full retirement benefits Aug. 12, Brewster said.

``I became hesitant to take retirement at this time because I thought many would interpret it as an act of capitulation or confession,'' Thompson said. ``It is not.''

Thompson, 57, who was appointed to the bench in 1982, will receive $88,800 a year in retirement pay. With his age and 22 1/2 years of judicial service rounded up, Thompson met the state's requirement that the number of years worked combined with an employee's age must equal 80.

Before joining the bench, Thompson of Sapulpa served 10 years as a state representative, serving with Edmondson as deskmates on the House floor. He said he has presided over many significant cases.

``During the nearly 33 years of my public service, I have not had even a minor blemish on my reputation,'' said Thompson, wearing a navy blue blazer and tie.

``By all accounts I have served the people of Oklahoma well, but I leave it to the people to judge me,'' he said.