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A jury on Wednesday found L.A. acting coach Cameron Thor guilty of committing a lewd act on a minor after a week of difficult testimony in a Van Nuys courtroom. The seven men and five women walked into the Van Nuys Superior Court and returned their decision after 2 days of deliberation.
Thor threw his head back when the verdict was read and then leaned forward, placing his head on the table. His son Ace and his wife Alice Carter broke into tears. On the other side of the courtroom, Thor’s accuser, 20-year-old Jordyn Ladell and her family also wept.
Thor then turned to his family and whispered “I love you” twice, once to his son and once to his wife. When deputies approached to handcuff him, Thor let out an audible moan and shook his head. He will be taken to an L.A. County jail where he will remain until sentencing. Judge Martin L. Herscovitz declined to offer bail.
“I got my life back,” said Ladell afterwards, “I did it, we did it. I’ve never felt so happy.”
“I am disappointed and surprised,” said James Blatt, Thor’s attorney, “But I respect the jury’s decision. They saw things differently than the defense.”
After the trial, a clearly devastated Ace expressed shock and disappointment at the verdict, but asked that his comments be withheld for the moment.
After the trial, Ladell and her family ran into the jury as it was departing the court. Ladell waved to the jurors from the inside of her car and then rolled down the window when they passed. Ladell said one of the jurors told her, “Hang in there, baby girl. You got your life back. I’m so proud of you.”
Sentencing will occur in October. Thor faces 3 to 13 years in a state prison, a sentence which would include an enhancement for special circumstances.
Thor had been charged with one count of performing a lewd act on a child under the age of 14, a felony. Originally, L.A. Deputy District Attorney Simone Shay had filed 14 charges against Thor, including kidnapping and sexual assault but decided to drop 13 of the 14 charges during the course of several pre-trial motions.
Thor is a well-known acting coach who had a small role in the 1993 hit Jurassic Park, as well as roles in TV. He and his wife run the Carter Thor Studio, a popular acting school in Studio City that has catered to working actors for several years.
Thor’s accuser, 20-year-old community college student Ladell, says Thor sexually assaulted her during a car ride in the spring of 2009.
Thor’s trial began on August 17 and lasted over a week. During her tearful and emotional testimony, a visibly distraught Ladell testified about her relationship with Thor, which she says began when she was 12 years old and accompanied her mother, Patti, to a local Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, where Thor was also an attendee.
Ladell testified that Thor offered her free acting lessons and told her that he would buy her braces to fix her teeth. According to Ladell, Thor gave her the private lessons in a room at his Agoura Hills home on several different occasions during the spring of 2009. She then testified that Thor took her on a drive into the Santa Monica mountains as part of another acting lesson and, after pulling over to the side of the road, smoked marijuana with her and then sexually assaulted her.
It took Ladell several years before she went to the police with the full account of her story, despite the repeated urgings of individual and family therapists. After she did, detectives from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, as well as the DA’s office, recruited her to help them try and nab Thor. To do so, they enlisted Ladell’s help to record Thor in phone conversations and during a meeting the two had at a Starbucks in 2014.
A tape of one of the recorded phone calls was played to jurors early on in the trial. In the 27-minute recording, Thor can be heard telling Ladell, then 18, that he wished to have sex with her, and that he was contemplating a separation from his wife and business partner, Alice Carter.
Testimony from the prosecution also included Ladell’s cousin Karlie Dube, who flew down from Canada. Dube was the first person Ladell told about the alleged assault, during a family visit in 2009. Shay also called an LASD detective who took Ladell’s first official police statement.
Thor did not testify on his own behalf. His attorney called only one witness in Thor’s defense, Robert Coryell, Ladell’s woodshop teacher at Lindero Canyon Middle School. He first testified that he didn’t believe Ladell could have left and returned to his class without his knowing, but when Shay pressed him about whether he would have noticed if a student had left and never returned, he conceded that he would not have noticed.
The jury was unconvinced by the testimony.
Thor’s attorney went after Ladell hard for nearly two days, trying to discredit her testimony. He tried to make the case to jurors that she had contradicted herself in statements she made at various times to the police, to the DA and to the media, including The Hollywood Reporter, which was the first news outlet to report the extent of Ladell’s allegations, before the case went to trial.
“I corrected him every time he made a mistake,” said Ladell.
In her closing statements, Shay spoke for an hour and twenty minutes and then followed Blatt’s with a thirty minute rebuttal.
In the end, the jury believed Ladell.
“I’m in shock,” said Dean Ladell, Jordyn’s father, “I don’t know if I’ve ever been more proud of Jordyn.”
Jordyn’s twin brother Josh echoed the sentiment. “I’m proud to call her my sister,” he said.
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