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Former Hodgenville mayor admits to affair; denies any connection to criminal case

By Gina Clear The News-Enterprise

Terry Cruse doesn't deny having an extramarital affair, but says the details just aren't as juicy as many would hope.

The ousted Hodgenville mayor said Thursday it was time to "clear the air" about rumors circulating the town about personal communications, including love letters, found during a Kentucky State Police search of city hall that resulted in indictments of Cruse and former city clerk MaDonna Hornback. He maintained the affair with Hornback had nothing to do with city business.

"This mess has gone on long enough," he said Thursday at his residence with his wife, Cindy, by his side. "There is no scandal. The affair they're looking for just isn't there."

The admission came following a Court of Appeals order denying Cruse's appeal of Judge Charles Simms' ruling to seal personal communications between Cruse and Hornback "including love cards, holiday cards and handwritten notes reflecting a relationship of an intimate nature." The items allegedly were found by Kentucky State Police investigators in Cruse's desk drawer.

"Potential public humiliation for engaging in an extramarital relationship does not constitute something of a ruinous nature or incalculable damage" in the trial, the court said in the order.

The order from the Court of Appeals was filed Wednesday afternoon in LaRue Circuit Court in a criminal case where Cruse was indicted on nine counts of abuse of public trust; one count of theft by unlawful taking; two counts of campaign contribution restrictions/expense limits; and two counts of second-degree forgery.

Hornback is charged with 54 counts of abuse of public trust and one count of theft by unlawful taking.

Each charge is a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison if convicted.

The personal communications may be entered into evidence for Cruse and Hornback's Sept. 8 trial, pending a pretrial hearing at 9 a.m. Aug. 29 in LaRue Circuit Court. No date was available on when the documents will be unsealed by the court.

Cruse said he made the appeal to keep his personal life private and not allow the commonwealth to try his case in the court of public opinion.

"It amazes me the turns this case has taken," he said. "The affair has nothing to do with the case."

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