Terri Horman tries to delay lawsuit filed against her

Terri Horman accompanied by attorneys Peter Bunch, left, and Stephen Houze, not seen, leaves the Multnomah County Courthouse
Terri Horman in a picture from August 25, 2010 as she leaves the Multnomah County Courthouse (AP Photo/Ross William Hamilton, Pool. File Photo)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The stepmother of an Oregon boy who vanished two years ago has asked a judge to hold off hearing a civil suit that says she knows where the boy is and must turn him over.

The suit, filed by Kyron Horman's biological mother Desiree Young, seeks $10 million and asks a judge to order Terri Horman to return Kyron or, if he's dead, say where his remains are located.

The boy was 7 when he disappeared June 4, 2010, after attending a science fair at his school.

In the motion filed Tuesday to hold the case in abatement, Terri Horman says the civil suit seeks facts that could lead to a criminal prosecution. She wants the judge to stay the case by two years.

"While one can sympathize with Young," Horman's attorney, Peter Bunch, wrote in the filing, "her lawsuit is, at its core, an attempt to circumvent established procedures for discovery in criminal proceedings and is an attack on Horman's fundamental constitutional rights."

Investigators have long focused on Terri Horman, although they have not named her as a suspect or filed criminal charges.

The civil lawsuit accuses her of kidnapping Kyron, by herself or with help.

When the lawsuit was filed June 1, Young's attorney, Elden Rosenthal, said it would be on a "parallel track" with the criminal investigation. He would not say what kind of reaction the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office gave when he informed them of Young's decision to sue.

Terri Horman believes the suit is working to advance the aims of local law enforcement. She points out that the judge hearing her divorce from Kyron's father, Kaine Horman, delayed that case while the criminal investigation plays out.

"Plainly and simply, Young's lawsuit is a quest for information to move the criminal investigation forward and to taint any jury pool," according to the filing.

Civil allegations require a lower standard of proof — a preponderance of evidence — than criminal charges, which must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

Compelling her to testify, Bunch wrote, could force Terri Horman to invoke her constitutional right against self-incrimination, pointing out the weak spots in her case.

"The burden on Horman of being required to participate in this lawsuit before the district attorney and police have completed their investigation squarely jeopardizes her constitutional rights," Bunch wrote. "

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