Guilty! Monticello marauders cop a plea
The saga of the Monticello break-in ended on Thursday, May 6, as UVA nursing students Heather Lynn Horn and Connor Hyland Ginley pled guilty to a reduced charge of misdemeanor trespass, avoiding jail time and a felony record for breaking and entering.
On Saturday night, March 20, the two had attended the 100th anniversary dinner of The Raven Society, an elite UVA honor society of which Horn was reportedly a member.
Following the gala, the pair repaired to TJ's mountain, where, according to Albemarle Police Lt. Earl Newton, they were apprehended by Monticello security sometime just after 2am on Sunday, March 21. Newton says a guard "noticed the top portion of a downstairs window open, and heard a woman's voice."
The two were caught as they were walking away from the house, and county police were summoned for the arrest. Newton says he's unaware of any reports regarding alcohol use before or during the incident.
Though Horn and Ginley did not return the Hook's calls, they have each stated publicly that they meant no harm by their late-night expedition.
"We just drove up to the exterior of the gate," The Daily Progress quoted Horn on Monday, March 22.
Ginley said in The Washington Post two days later, "We were just appreciating Monticello... We were just walking around enjoying ourselves. We didn't damage anything."
Damage or not, Monticello brass wasn't amused.
"The charge of breaking and entering the house is absolutely valid," said Monticello head Dan Jordan the week after the break-in, declining to elaborate on the actual location of the accused when they were discovered. Jordan said the break-in was the first in his 20-year tenure with Monticello.
But despite the seriousness of breaking in to a national monument, Monticello's attitude seems to have softened since then. The charge was reduced to misdemeanor trespass. The two got off with the proverbial slap on the wrist: a 30-day suspended jail sentence and 60 hours of community service.
Rick Moore, the deputy Commonwealth Attorney who prosecuted the case, did not return the Hook's call.
In addition to legal sanctions, the students could face consequences from UVA. Raven president Cameron Howell declined comment about Horn's standing with the Raven Society. But UVA spokesperson Carol Wood says any repercussions would come through the University Judiciary Committee, a student-run body that handles complaints regarding student behavior.
Like the UVA Honor Council, the UJC can issue a variety of punishments, ranging from warning to restitution to expulsion, "depending on the gravity of the offense," says Wood.
It's unlikely such results would ever make the news, however.
"We never make that public," says Wood.
As for Monticello, it appears there are no hard feelings.
"We're satisfied with this resolution," says Jordan in a prepared statement. "Some good kids did something dumb, got caught, and paid for their mistake. We wish them well in their future endeavors."
Heather Lynn Horn's March 21 mugshot
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO
Connor Hyland Ginley's March 21 mugshot
PHOTO BY JEN FARIELLO