Cameron Thor Trial: Testimony Begins in Acting Coach's Sexual Assault Case
Thor is accused of one count of performing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14.
The trial of Los Angeles acting coach Cameron Thor began in a Van Nuys courthouse this week, with opening statements and testimony from Thor's accuser, 20-year old community college student Jordyn Ladell.
Ladell has said Thor sexually assaulted her in 2009, when she was 13. Wearing a black dress and glasses, occasionally breaking into tears, a visibly emotional Ladell testified about the alleged events that led the L.A. Deputy District Attorney to file charges against Thor in 2014.
"Cameron told me that if I told people, it would be bad for me, that no one would believe me," Ladell said, trying to explain why she waited several years before filing a police report. She added, "I didn't want to have to go through all this."
Thor is charged with one count of performing a lewd act on a child under 14. Previously, Thor had been charged with 14 felony counts, including kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault, but the District Attorney's office dropped 13 of the 14 charges in recent weeks.
Thor is a well-known Hollywood acting coach with several TV and movie credits to his name, including the role of Lewis Dodgson, a dinosaur embroyo thief in Jurassic Park. He and his wife, Alice Carter, run the Carter Thor Studio in Studio City. If convicted, Thor's attorney James Blatt says Thor could face several years in prison.
Ladell has said she and Thor became acquainted in 2008 when the then-12-year-old Ladell began accompanying her mother, Patti, to a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, which Thor also attended. Ladell says she began taking private acting lessons from Thor, at his suggestion, at the teacher's Agoura Hills home. It was during these meetings, Ladell says, that Thor began acting inappropriately, behavior she says ultimately culminated in a violent sexual assault in a car on a subsequent drive into the Santa Monica Mountains.
Addressing the jury of seven men and five women in her opening statement, Deputy District Attorney Simone Shay said that at the time of the alleged assault, Ladell's family was in disarray and that Jordyn Ladell "wasn't getting the attention she required." Shay then cautioned jurors that Mr. Blatt, in defense of his client Cameron Thor, "wants to attack and destroy Ms. Ladell." She also pointed out that Thor does not contest being in a car with Ms. Ladell when the events that led to the lewd act charge allegedly occurred.
Wearing a blue suit, white shirt and glasses, Thor watched the proceedings and made few movements.
In his opening statement, Blatt told the jury he would show them evidence in the form of school attendance documents and cell phone records that would dispute parts of Ladell's version of events, and cast significant doubt on her testimony.
"The facts are the facts," said Blatt, "We are confident that at the end of this case, you will find that [Jordyn Ladell] has zero credibility."
Also testifying on Ladell's behalf Wednesday morning was her cousin, Karlie Dube, who flew down from Canada for the trial. Ladell says Dube was the first person she told about the alleged assault, during a family visit in 2009.
Dube says Ladell confessed the broad outlines of the alleged assault during the visit, testifying that "something inappropriate of a sexual nature" had occurred between Ladell and Thor. Dube testified that she urged Ladell to tell her parents, but Ladell repeatedly refused.
"I felt guilty, but I kept at her, trying to get her to talk to somebody," Dube told the court. "After a certain point, I had to tell somebody." Eventually, she told her uncle, Dean Ladell, Jordyn's father, who says he confronted Jordyn immediately, which led to a years-long effort to get Jordyn to go to the police with her account.
Jordyn testified that she remained quiet about the assault for several years before finally going to the police, which resulted in a sting operation in the spring of 2014 during which police, with Jordyn's help, recorded Thor. The operation was overseen by police detectives and officials from the DA's office.
DA Shay played a 27-minute tape recording for the jurors, taped by the police, in which Thor is heard to tell Jordyn, who by then had turned 18, that he wished to have sex with her.
In 2014, Thor was later arrested by LASD deputies and spent time in jail before being released to house arrest and required to wear an ankle bracelet to monitor his movements.
Blatt's cross examination of Jordyn Ladell will begin on Thursday. The trial is expected to conclude sometime next week.