Arrested Sunday by federal authorities as his plane landed at Fort Benning, a man employed by a defense contractor in Iraq now is being sent to Texas to be tried on a charge of sexually abusing a soldier.
"He agrees to be returned to Texas," attorney James Lamb said of defendant Jorge J. Thornton, 27, at a hearing Monday before federal Magistrate G. Mallon Faircloth in Columbus. Thornton has been indicted by a federal grand jury on a charge of aggravated sexual abuse, stemming from an incident which allegedly occurred June 14 at a U.S. military installation known as Forward Operating Base Sykes near Tel Afar, Iraq.
Thornton was working there for BlackHawk Management Corp., a company he told Faircloth is headquartered in Houston. Federal investigators said the woman he allegedly abused is a soldier, but neither she nor Thornton are residents of this area. They said Thornton's initial hearing was held here in Columbus because he was arrested here.
Representing the government Monday was Brendan Flanagan, an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Middle District of Georgia. He is based here in Columbus.
Flanagan declined to give any further details of the case.
U.S.. marshals said they soon will escort Thornton, who was being held Monday in the Muscogee County jail, to what they called "con-air" for a secure flight back to face trial in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, Waco Division. Court testimony Monday indicated that is where Thornton last resided in the States.
The town where he is alleged to have sexually abused a soldier is a strategic point in northwestern Iraq.
Tal Afar is west of Mosul and about 60 miles east of the Syrian border. The Associated Press reported Aug. 17 that the farming town of about 220,000 since April had experienced four major bombings that killed 40 people and wounded 150. It also was the battleground for a major offensive in September 2005, when Iraqi troops backed by U.S. forces drove insurgents from the area.