Extortion and sexual abuse charges were handed down by a two-woman, 10-man jury on an estranged Renick couple in a trial last week in Greenbrier County. Norma Brown Griffin, 44, of Renick was found guilty of extorting a 101-acre farm from her now-estranged husband, Jack Griffin, on the pretense of threatening to tell the police she knew about his sexual abuse of her daughter.
Testimony revealed Norma Griffin knew of the sexual abuse in August of 2011 but did not go to the authorities until December, when she also had filed for divorce. The couple were married in April of that year.
Norma Griffin told the jury her young daughter had revealed that Griffin had been watching pornographic movies with her in August. As reported in the West Virginia Daily News, Norma Griffin then had her daughter record a conversation with Jack Griffin on a cell phone about watching the pornography together.
Special Prosecutor Kristen R. Cook posed some sharp questions to Norma Griffin in cross-examination, asking why she would continue to put her daughter in such danger. “You knew he was abusing your daughter, yet you still sent her out there to record him?” Cook asked. “Is that protecting your children?”
“I wanted him caught,” Norma Griffin responded. She added that Jack Griffin “had never been violent” with her daughter. “He had only been showing her videos.”
In Norma Griffin’s version of events Jack Griffin had offered her the farm in exchange for not going to the police. Her defense lawyer, Eric Francis stated, “Just because you accept an offer, it’s not a crime.”
I never brought the farm up,” Norma Griffin said. “I did not threaten him …I was taking him up on his offer.”
Three prosecution witnesses testified that Norma Griffin had boasted in their presence that she had told Jack Griffin to sign the farm over to her “lock, stock and barrel.” Norma Griffin said all three were lying and confused. “That is not what I said,” she declared.
After a three-hour deliberation, the jury decided Norma Griffin was guilty of extorting the farm from Jack Griffin.
Jack Griffin was indicted on the sexual abuse charge and Norma Griffin was indicted on an extortion charge by a grand jury. Both were arrested. Judge Joseph C. Pomponio presided over the case and ordered a pre-sentencing report be filed. Norma Griffin will be allowed to remain free on bond while awaiting sentencing. She faces up to five years in prison if given the maximum sentence. Jack Griffin is scheduled to be sentenced later this year.
The farm property ownership will be decided later in family court.