A jury needed only two hours to convict ex-director of Salvation Army program of abusing a client living at homeless shelter.
The former director of a chemical treatment program for the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light homeless shelter was convicted Thursday of criminal sexual abuse of a client.
A jury of five men and one woman concluded that Amy Horsfield, 39, had engaged in sexual acts with Anthony Bishop, a sex offender who was living at the shelter in Minneapolis and attending the chemical dependency treatment program.
Horsfield put her hands to her face as Hennepin County District Judge Mark Wernick read the jury’s verdict.
He ordered Horsfield held in custody until her sentencing March 19.
Horsfield did not take the stand in her own defense, and the jurors deliberated for just two hours. Her attorney, Robert Paule, while aggressively cross-examining prosecution witnesses, never called any defense witnesses.
He said the state had failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.
“Certainly my client had issues of boundaries and inappropriate behavior,” Paule told the jury in closing arguments. “But my client is not on trial for that.”
Horsfield was convicted of abusing a vulnerable adult, in this case, a man suffering from chemical dependency who was trying to remain sober. Assistant City Attorneys Lisa Godon and Nicole Appelbaum argued that Horsfield had “a lot of control” over Bishop, with the ability to expel him from the treatment program and have him returned to prison.
“This case is about abuse of trust, power and authority,” Godon told the jury Thursday. “What happened here is criminal.”
Bishop, 43, a small man with short-cropped hair, was convicted of rape in 1991. He has been in and out of prison since that time for failing to register as a sex offender and other issues, although he has not been accused of new sex crimes. He’s alleged that his experience with Horsfield led him to abuse drugs again, which caused him to be returned to prison.
Bishop testified that he had sex with Horsfield in his apartment at Harbor Light, in her car and in a hotel room. He also said they had phone sex and texted sexual messages to each other. The incidents occurred between November 2010 and April 2011.
The prosecutors presented records listing a large number of phone calls between Bishop and Horsfield and 494 calls that Bishop made to her after he returned to prison. Of those, 16 were completed and some were recorded.
Prosecutors also offered evidence alleging she had sex with another felon who was in treatment at Harbor Light and was “grooming” that man’s brother, who was at the Lino Lakes prison. She deposited $900 in his account and wrote him a large number of letters, some of which contained sexual references. Horsfield has not been charged over those activities.
The seven-day trial also revealed that Horsfield’s husband, Stephen Horsfield, was the second in command at Harbor Light during the time she was having sex with Bishop.
Stephen Horsfield has since left the Salvation Army and is now executive director at Simpson Housing Services in Minneapolis.
He did not attend most of the trial but was with her on Thursday, holding hands in the corridor outside the courtroom before closing arguments were made.
Testimony revealed that Stephen Horsfield was also Bishop’s sponsor in Alcoholics Anonymous, an individual who typically serves as a support figure and confidante for a recovering alcoholic or addict.
Amy Horsfield’s crime is a misdemeanor, and she could face up to a year in jail.
The prosecutors took no position on whether Horsfield should be held until she is sentenced.
But following the verdict, they told the judge that the city attorney’s office had received information that Amy Horsfield had called a reporter at the Star Tribune and left a threatening voice-mail message, after an article about her appeared in the newspaper.
Wernick decided to jail her until the sentencing, citing the alleged threat and trial testimony that Horsfield had been contacting the Lino Lakes prisoner while she was being investigated for abusing Bishop.
She was led out of the courtroom by two Hennepin County sheriff’s deputies.
Attorneys from both sides were instructed by Wernick not to speak to news outlets until after the sentencing.
Paule, the defense attorney, is likely to file an appeal on several issues. He objected to a number of Wernick’s rulings and several times argued there should be a mistrial, which Wernick rejected.
Randy Furst • 612-673-4224