Horn seen here on the sidelines of a UVA football game in 2010.
Horn and his wife posing as Mrs. and Mr. James Bond in 2009.
On January 5, Albemarle County Police arrested one of their own, former County police officer Sean M. Horn, 42, who has been charged with an alleged Thanksgiving Day weekend rape in 2011, "accomplished through the use of the victim's mental incapacity or physical helplessness," according to an arrest warrant. Police say the arrest follows a "thorough investigation."
However, without notice on January 6, members of the media were barred from a bond hearing for Horn in Albemarle County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, after Judge Dwight Johnson granted a motion by the defense to bar media from the courtroom due to concerns about pre-trial publicity.
"That is very rarely imposed," says Hook legal expert David Heilberg, "The judge needs to be very careful."
Indeed, as Heilberg explains, while legal for pre-trial hearings, such bans require a judge to balance the rights of the press under the First Amendment with a defendant's right to a fair trial. Naturally, there should be a fair amount of substance in the defense's argument. What's more, these bans are usually reserved for public figures capable of generating a high level of pre-trial publicity in the first place.
Horn's attorney, David Sims, an intern in the Charlottesville Commonwealth Attorney's Office in 2008 while a law student at UVA, did not immediately respond for comment.
"Of course,"as Heilberg points out,"the case will probably become more high profile because of the ruling."
Deputy Commonwealth's Attorney Darby Lowe did say that there was an "adult victim" and that Horn had been released on a $5,000 secured bond. Since the case is being handled in Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, it's possible the victim is a family member.
Horn is a Charlottesville native, graduate of Liberty University, and received an MBA from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC) in 2010. Horn was a County police officer for more than 15 years, and in 2002 he became a School Resource Officer for Jackson P. Burley Middle School and Murray High School. At the time of his arrest, he was a Reserve Deputy with the Albemarle County Sheriff's Office, a post quickly revoked.
Horn shares a $400,000, five bedroom home in the Dunlora development with his current wife, Amy Wicks-Horn, currently the executive director of the Virginia Discovery Museum, and three daughters; one in college, one in high school, and a younger one whom the couple conceived together.
Wicks-Horn purchased the home with her former husband, Andrew C. Wicks, a professor of Business Administration at UVA's Darden School of Business, in 2002, but according to County real estate records, ownership was transferred to Amy Wicks in 2007. In 2008, Amy Wicks-Horn and Sean Micheal Horn were listed as the owners.
In a January 6 email to his staff, Albemarle County Sheriff J.E. "Chip" Harding asked that Horn and his family be kept in their prayers.
"I am not aware of any of the details," says Harding,"but do know enough about the allegations to ask that we all give our justice system ample opportunity to hear all the facts before reaching a final conclusion."
As a member of the Sheriff Department's reserve division for 8 months, Horn, Harding said, had "served well," but that the charge made it necessary to decommission him.
"It might be a possibility that he will rejoin us in the future," said Harding,"depending on the results of his current situation."
The next hearing on the case is scheduled for January 23 at 1:30pm.
Update 1/23/12: NBC29 reports that Horn did not appear in Albemarle County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court January 23, has retained new counsel, and will be back in court February 27.