A Superior man who sexually assaulted an 87-year-old woman in the senior living facility where she lived will spend 10 years in prison.
A Douglas County jury on Oct. 30 found Cullen Joel Horne, 63, guilty of third degree sexual assault, intentionally subjecting an individual at risk to abuse, aggravated battery and obstructing an officer.
Circuit Court Judge Kelly Thimm sentenced Horne on Jan. 2 to consecutive five-year prison terms for the sex assault and intentionally subjecting an individual at risk to abuse charges, followed by 10 years of extended supervision. A three-year prison sentence for aggravated battery was to be served concurrently.
Thimm also sentenced Horne to nine months jail for the obstruction charge, to be served consecutively. The Superior man must register as a sex offender, pay $400 restitution and a $2,000 fine. Horne was ordered to have no contact with the victim.
“This is one of the most, in my opinion, serious offenses I’ve dealt with in sentencing,” Judge Kelly Thimm said. “This manipulation and preying upon such a vulnerable person.”
Through tears, Horne asked the judge to show mercy to his family and allow him to pay off his financial fines by sentencing him to probation. His attorney, Bernardo Cueto, said that Horne has no criminal history and has had no bail jumping charges since he was released on bond in April 2018.
“Mr. Horne is a good person who did something terrible,” Cueto said, requesting probation.
District Attorney Mark Fruehauf argued for prison time, calling the offenses premeditated. The victim was a vulnerable individual who had a mild condition of Alzheimer’s disease and needed a walker to move around due to arthritis, he said in a sentencing memorandum. She lived at a facility where Horne had worked as a certified nursing assistant.
The woman’s daughter and caregiver told the court that to this day, her mother needs to be constantly assured that she is safe and the “bad guy” is not nearby.
Thimm accepted the state’s prison recommendation. He said Horne targeted the 87-year-old for a personal, despicable crime while she was living in a community meant to protect her.
“This is somebody I consider to be a predator,” Thimm said.
He said Horne lied from the beginning to the end of the case and continued to deflect responsibility.
“In my opinion, the need to protect the public is high,” the judge said.
The sentence also acts as a message and deterrent to the public.
“This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated by this society,” Thimm said. “This kind of behavior cannot be tolerated by this court.”