Judge allegedly used device to masturbate during trials
Feb. 8, 2005 12:36 PM
OKLAHOMA CITY – 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 hand-held 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 led to criminal charges against Thompson, 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 said the pump was just a gag gift received from a hunting buddy on his 50th birthday. He retired in August after being threatened with removal from the bench, but still 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 in which a jury ordered the company that publishes The Oklahoman, a Web site and a TV station to pay $3.7 million.
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. But he said: “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.”
Jim Wall, police chief in the small town of Sapulpa, said he had heard rumors of the judge’s behind-the-bench activities for about a month, but added: “You’ve got the most powerful man in Creek County, and I think a lot people were intimidated by him.”