Rape charge: County cop arrested and media blocked

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.

Read more on: sexual assault


You did everything but give the rape victim's name. Ethics be damned.

Deleted by moderator.

Will you please explain why in the world you published all those personal details about the officer's spouse? Why did you print the value of their home? And that ridiculous "conceived together" statement is just too much. This article is written at the TMZ level.

All sounds like fair game. Anyway, spouses usually know about this crap.

Good well written article . The alleged victum of an alleged rape may very well be trying to set up a smoke screen as cover in a material move .

Find this interesting that even the "upper crust" of society isn't without their perps. Guess this goes to show you "can't judge a book by it's cover".

We'll all have to wait to see what the disposition of this case will be. But, I've said it numerous times before and I'm sure I'll repeat myself in the future, you don't no didly about a person until you live with them, and even then, how much do you really know?

PLEASE SIGN THIS PETITION! It will make the world a better [if not good] place!

what car do they drive tell me Hook where do they shop?? We want to know if they recycle. What about picking up after thier dog? Must know must know.

Why were my comments about Officer Gary Pistulka deleted? They linked to news articles, including one that was published by The Hook? All I said was that it seemed funny that there was another Albemarle School Resource Cop who had done nothing with his life professionally but had managed to marry into money and find his way into legal trouble. Just like Pistulka, the man has run into legal trouble because he is of a small mind and is recovering from 12 years of being bullied in grade school.


The value of their home is easily found on online Tax Records and proved this guy was living high on the hog without actually earning it.

Living high on the hog without earning it? How can you say that if you don't know him? I dont know him but working 10 years as a cop and then getting an MBA doesn't sound like someone who is sitting on their a** doing nothing.

Mr/Mrs/Miss Wow, stop picking on our little orange haired stepchild!

How many times has he gotten the Albemarle County police sued now? I think he held the record for the most in the history of the department at one time. Probably still does.

Mr Wicks and his children are the victims in this train wreck.

I've already convicted him of Morgan Harrington's murder.

Some media reports say this event happened "through the use of the victim's mental incapacity or physical helplessness". To me this means drunk or drugged. If this is the case, I would have been in jail for rape 35 to 40 years ago if all the girls I picked up in bars and nightclubs yelled RAPE a month later. Something's not right in this case. One thing is for sure though, no matter what the outcome is in this event, it has ruined Sean Horn's life forever.

the "facts" given in this article are not "facts" at all. the hook is merely hitting this family over the head with more media coverage in this tragedy that is destroying their lives. how dare they make uneducated and ignorant comments as these. i am ashamed. the family (and other names mentioned) who had absolutely nothing to do with this is suffering daily and the news is feeding on it. make all the reports about the action itself and the case, but leave your yellow journalism about the innocent and shattered families alone. you disgust me.

Amen Bob!

@blank, you're right of course. Anything that has ever happened or will happen in the past, present, or future in or around cville is directly related to Morgan Harrington's murder. House fires, suicides, police shootings, kids setting off homemade explosives, musicians playing around town, security guards enforcing a policy, entertainers dancing with fire, student athletes practicing their sport, and the institution of slavery -- it's all been a vast conspiracy to murder her and then cover it up. And every one of the citizens is in on it.

I hope the Wicks-Horn's lawyer is watching blinkoncrime.

Hook reader: now the mod of the website you mention is advising her readers not to read blogs that allow anonymous posters! Last time I looked posters on that site weren't using their real names. That is an effort to keep her readers from seeing the backlash from this unfortunate vague connection made on that site to this man and Morgan Harrington. Ah well, I guess any publicity is good publicity, right?

In the jurisdiction i am in they handle publication bans somewhat differently . This charged person's name would be also banned . Otherwise the identity of the allrged victim is figured out be those close to her/him . Publishing the name of the charged person defeats the intent of banning the alleged victim's name . The ban is maintained forever conviction or not . Press stories for the sexual assault are done without names or other details that might lead to identity of the alleged victim . It may read something like ; 45 year old male convicted of sexual assault on a minor was found guilty and sentenced to whatever . It is frustrating not to know the name of the culprit but it does not further victimize the harmed person and is generally accepted as the most deseriable and moral way to handle these disgraceful cases. Banning identafiable details prevents turbo charged sickos like Boink from doing the evil he/she is currently perpatrating on the relevant institutions,families ,and individuals .

I'm disturbed to read how many details about this family's life you have published in this story. Are not the family in this case victims as well? Surely you realize that in these situations the family is experiencing horrific trauma at this time? I'm ashamed that the Hook decided to publish so many personal details about their life! Shame on you!!!

For all of those dismayed by the extraneous details in this article, I think anyone in journalism who is honest will concede that they are more in the entertainment business than the news business. When I went to journalism school in the mid-1980s, there still was the news mission. But think about it: the proliferation of media choices for the consumer means that news needs to be created to fill those media. Now, as you create news, you also need to embellish coverage to entertain the masses. This is particularly true in the electronic media (example: Why is a police pursuit in LA worth :40 story on Chville TV?). In the print media, we embellish by putting provocative wording like "one they conceived together" and facts like home values and subdivision names.
Even the lead sentence is wrong. They did not arrest "one of their own." He was a part-time deputy and long removed from being an Albie County cop.
So, the media are here to entertain us. If any of you have ever been involved in a story that made it to the paper, you understand this point: When reading the story, those involved usually think "Is that what actually happened?"
R.I.P.: Harry Hamlin's career

Liberalace, What's up with the reference to Harry Hamlin? And to everyone else, regarding this particular story, could we all pay some respect to the concept of "innocent until proven guilty"?

I have know Sean since 1993, He is 1 of the most fair and inherently good people I have ever met. I have not been close with him in 10 years, but there is no doubt in my mind he will be cleared of these charges as this is nowhere inline with his character.

The ENTIRE last two parragraphs are unnecessary and are of ill-taste. There is no relevance of these paragraphs to the case. All you are doing is gossiping and making things harder for the family; the whole family, Mr. Wicks most of all who should not have been brought up. Shame on you!

Didn't the judge error in not banning information that might lead to the identity of the person whose name was ordered not be released to the public .This outlet is simply exercising it's function of getting newsy information out to it's readers . Shooting the messenger will not stop the flow of information .Distain should be reserved for those vile sites that take such information and cruely speculate such as the evil Boink and her evil apprentices' .

Thanks for telling me where he lives! Could I also have his social security number? Thanks!

Ah, too many details to embarrass the family .... all this ballyhoo from a town that protects campus rapists and victimizes young women who come forward to tell their stories of rapes and rape coverups. I'm enraged!

Don't worry - your current prosecutor doesn't go after young male rapists because "the climate in this town doesn't allow it". She'll go after this guy cuz he's a cop....

Since I have now solved the Harrington murder, where do I apply for the $150,000 reward?

Hey Blank do you know what slander is? Keep it up and you might have to pay that $150,000. D-A

Wow. Great way to "report journalism" I'm pretty sure my school paper has better reporters than the hook. Next time you want to report "facts" you should probably make sure they're true. Also, I don't see why you had to drag the family into this. That's just unprofessional. Maybe one day you can go back to school and learn what journalism really is because other than the facts about THE CASE I don't see any need for most of the article. We don't need to know anything about the house, the wife, the kids, or the ex husband. Please go take a class on how to actually write journalism, not the equivilance of a high school tumblr blog. I hope you get sued.

Also blank. Shut up and go to Oz to find that brain you so obviously lost.

oh gee ... what a shocker. any closer to solving any crimes in the area? well at least now we know we know for sure what the Abelmarle law enforcement does other than solve rapes and murders. maybe this will help them solve the Harrington case ... but i doubt it.