|This story gives a whole new meaning to "bell ringer"|
Minneapolis: Ex-Salvation Army staffer gets 6 months for abusing sex offender
By David Hanners
POSTED: 03/19/2014 12:01:00 AM CDT | UPDATED: A DAY AGO
The former head of a Salvation Army addiction-recovery program was sentenced Wednesday to six months in the workhouse after she was convicted of having sex with a man in the program.
Amy Andrea Horsfield, 39, of St. Paul said little at sentencing, but Hennepin County District Judge Mark Wernick had plenty to say, telling her she had manipulated her victim, himself a registered sex offender who had sought treatment in the program she oversaw.
Horsfield's actions were "as cruel, mean and as criminal as it gets," the judge said.
Wernick said the woman had preyed upon her victim, who had been "struggling with sex addiction for at least 20 years" and she had "manipulated him by talking to him about her dark side and her rape fantasies."
An assistant Minneapolis city attorney had asked for a 365-day sentence, the maximum for the gross misdemeanor. Wernick, after adjourning the hearing for a few minutes to mull his decision, said he was sentencing her to a year, but was staying 185 days of that for two years.
She'll get credit for the 28 days she's spent in jail since a jury found her guilty of the crime Feb. 20 after a six-day trial.
He placed conditions on the married mother of one. Among them: She has to get mental-health and sex-offender counseling, she can't have contact with her victim or any "vulnerable" adult and she can't work as a chemical-dependency counselor.
She also must register as a predatory sex offender.
Horsfield had been the program director/coordinator of the Beacon substance abuse recovery program at the Salvation Army's Harbor Light Center, just west of downtown Minneapolis.
Given the chance to speak before sentencing, Horsfield -- wearing a bright orange jail anti-bacterial garment, her hair wadded in a bun -- only denied a prosecutor's claim that she had sent a letter to another former Beacon client with whom the state says she had a relationship.
Wernick asked her if she had anything else to say. No, she said.
Before the hearing, defense attorney Robert Paule had given Wernick 17 letters from people asking for leniency. Among the correspondents: Horsfield's husband, her 12-year-old son ("She only wants to help people and provide comfort for them," the youth wrote), former co-workers and classmates at St. Catherine University and even former Beacon clients who said Horsfield had given them hope in their darkest hours.
At the time the crime was occurring, her husband also worked at the Harbor Light Center.
The Minneapolis city attorney's office charged her last May with criminal sexual abuse, claiming that in her capacity as a caregiver, she had preyed upon a "vulnerable" adult.
Police reports said she and a client in the program, identified in court documents by his initials, A.M.B., engaged in a consensual sexual relationship from November 2010 until April 2011.
Evidence indicated they'd had sex in several locations, including her vehicle, Beacon's housing area and at the Midway Motel in St. Paul.
Investigators found that Horsfield had talked to the man about maintaining a sexual relationship and that she "confided to A.M.B. that she had a 'rape fantasy' and said she wanted to fulfill that fantasy with A.M.B.," Assistant City Attorney Lisa Godon wrote in one court document.
The relationship continued after the man left the Beacon program.
Horsfield didn't testify at her trial last month, and Paule offered no witnesses, arguing to the jury that prosecutors failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Jurors disagreed.
In court Wednesday, Godon asked Wernick to sentence the woman to the maximum time behind bars and to ignore a probation officer's presentence report that recommended a couple of months.
"The defendant continues to minimize and deny what happened in this case," she told the judge. "The defendant continues to maintain that nothing happened."
She said Horsfield had been in therapy for 10 years, and it appeared she'd gained little from it.
"She has failed to accept responsibility for her actions," Godon said. She also said there was evidence Horsfield had had three similar inappropriate relationships while at the Salvation Army.
Paule told the judge that acceptance of responsibility "is a term of art in the legal community" and that, all things considered, his client "has been following the court's orders" and she could be released without endangering the community.
At one point, Wernick seemed incredulous at the defense argument, jumping in to say that Horsfield had told the probation officer doing the pre-sentencing report "not only did I not have sex, but there were no sexual communications."
Among the evidence prosecutors gathered were sexually explicit text messages between Horsfield and the man. At one point, she mailed him a pair of panties.
A.M.B., now 43, is serving a 366-day sentence at the prison in Stillwater for failing to register as a predatory sex offender. In January, he filed a civil suit against the Salvation Army and Horsfield, claiming negligence, maltreatment, sexual exploitation and intentional infliction of emotional distress, among other things.
The court docket doesn't indicate that Horsfield has filed an answer, but the Salvation Army did, denying wrongdoing.
The Salvation Army said the man "comes before this court with unclean hands because plaintiff's own conduct and actions have caused any alleged damages or loss of personal freedom."