Horn freed: Ex-County officer pleads guilty to assault
A former County police officer accused of rape has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor assault and battery of an adult family member.
Sean M. Horn, 42, who was most recently a reserve deputy with the Albemarle County Sheriff's Office, was arrested January 5 and charged with an alleged November 2011 rape of an adult family member.
Horn accepted a plea agreement Monday, April 9 in Albemarle County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court, pleading guilty to the assault and battery charge. According to Albemarle County Commonwealth's Attorney Denise Lunsford, Horn received a 12-month sentence, all suspended, along with one-year of supervision, during which Horn is to address issues related to the charge.
"The Commonwealth stands by the allegations contained in the original charge," Lunsford says in an email. "In cases of sexual assault up to and including rape, however, the Commonwealth is guided in large part by the desires of the victim."
According to Lunsford, the adult victim was "fully prepared" to move forward with the original charge, but decided to resolve the matter without going to trial.
"Her motivations for doing so were many, entirely appropriate, and fully supported by the Commonwealth," says Lunsford.
Hook legal analyst David Heilberg suspects there may have been some credibility issues with the victim, but rather than moving forward with the considerable costs of a trial, and spending even more time in jail, Horn decided to cut his losses and accept the lesser charge.
"Only a Rockefeller can litigate on principle," says Heilberg, "and only a Mandela is willing to stay in jail to prove a point."
Still, Lunsford says the victim and the community will be protected with Horn's one-year supervision requirement, and by the fact that the conviction will prevent him from possessing a firearm, and, therefore, obtaining future employment as a law enforcement officer.
Albemarle County Sheriff Chip Harding, who earlier asked the public to reserve judgement on Horn until he had his day in court, confirms that the assault conviction would prevent him from reinstating Horn.