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Pa. man enters pleas in sex assault case

December 23, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD and ANDREW SCHOTZ

pepperb@herald-mail.com

A Mercersburg, Pa., man entered pleas in Washington County Circuit Court on Wednesday in connection with an April 18 rape in which he was alleged to have used a pool stick to rape and sodomize a woman after offering her a ride to The Friendly Cafe in downtown Hagerstown.

Kenneth Gene Hornbaker, 35, whose last known address was 25 Oregon St. in Mercersburg, Pa., pleaded guilty to second-degree assault and entered an Alford plea to a second-degree sex offense charge.

Under an Alford plea, a defendant does not admit guilt, but acknowledges the state has enough evidence to get a conviction.

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Hornbaker entered the pleas under an agreement that the prosecution would seek the maximum 20-year prison sentence for the sex offense conviction and that his attorney could argue for less time, said Washington County Deputy State's Attorney Steven Kessell.

Kessell said that on April 18, Hornbaker offered a ride to a woman on West Antietam Street who had been walking from a bar carrying beer around 1 a.m.

Instead of driving the woman to her desired destination, The Friendly Cafe on West Franklin Street, Hornbaker said he had a gun and drove her to "a remote dirt road" on the CSX property off South Burhans Boulevard, where he "turned off the car, locked the car doors" and ordered her to undress, Kessell said.

Kessell said Hornbaker punched the woman when she hesitated and forced her to perform oral sex. He said that Hornbaker raped her using a pool stick that he also used to sodomize her.

The woman "kicked out the passenger window," grabbed her pants and ran nearly naked to a pay phone at Virginia Avenue and Noland Drive, where she called police at about 2 a.m., Kessell said.

He said the woman described the car Hornbaker was driving and police found it later that morning in Mercersburg, its passenger side window broken and a wooden object resembling a pool stick partially exposed inside the car.

Hornbaker told police that he "consumed rum and Coke doubles" when shooting pool earlier that night and later "picked up a woman in the Prospect Street area."

"He said he did not recall what happened," Kessell said.

Washington County Circuit Judge W. Kennedy Boone III ordered a presentence investigation. Hornbaker was ordered to remain at the Washington County Detention Center pending his Jan. 24 sentencing. He was being held at the jail without bond Wednesday.

The victim, whose name is being withheld to protect her identity, said after the hearing, "I don't know how I feel right now. I'm very angry. I think the man needs some serious help."

The victim's mother said, "I think he should get more than 20 years. She's going to be scarred for the rest of her life."

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