CARROLLTON, Ky.—The case of Adam Horine, the mentally ill Kentucky man removed from jail and put on a bus to Florida by Carrollton police earlier this year, continues to grow in complexity. He now faces a criminal charge of groping a woman in a northern Kentucky hospital.
Since his banishment from Carroll County, Horine has been on a circuitous voyage through the criminal justice and mental health systems. His case prompted a Kentucky Attorney General’s investigation into alleged police misconduct and sparked sharp criticism of the state’s mental health services.
Carrollton police jailed Horine last April on misdemeanor charges of disorderly conduct and making threats. Following his court appearance, officers defied a judge’s order that Horine, who has an array of physical and mental illnesses, be hospitalized for psychiatric care. Instead, an officer drove him to Louisville and shipped him to Florida.
Horine was brought back to Kentucky in May on a felony warrant charging him with escape, and hospitalized for psychiatric care at Eastern State Hospital in Lexington — where District Judge Elizabeth Chandler had ordered him sent in the first place.
Since then, Horine reportedly has bounced around several different facilities.
One of those was St. Elizabeth Hospital in northern Kentucky, where on June 27, Horine allegedly groped a patient. The patient, according to the complaint, was “incapable of consent” and “completely incapacitated.”
Authorities have since returned Horine to Eastern State, according to two sources close to the case.
It’s unclear why Horine left Eastern State in the first place, how or when he arrived at St. Elizabeth Hospital, and what’s next regarding his new misdemeanor sexual abuse charge.
Florence police said they could not discuss the case because the criminal summons had not been served. And a spokeswoman for Eastern State said federal law prohibited her from discussing anything related to Horine, including whether he is or has been a patient there.
Horine’s attorney, Edward Bourne of Owenton, also declined to discuss issues related to Horine except to say that he is “receiving treatment.” And Horine’s stepmother, Charlotte Horine, said she knew nothing about him leaving Eastern State, or about his criminal case in Florence.
This much is known: Carrollton Police Chief Mike Willhoite, who allegedly directed that Horine be banished to Florida, and Officer Ron Dickow, who released Horine from jail, are the focus of the pending criminal investigation by the attorney general’s office, as well as contempt of court charges for violating Chandler’s order.
A Carroll County grand jury is tentatively scheduled to consider evidence against Willhoite and Dickow next month, the sources said. And a hearing is set for later in August in connection with Horine’s earlier criminal charges, as well as the contempt case against the two police officers.
In the meantime, prosecutors, judges and the Carroll County circuit court clerk all have stepped aside, citing actual or potential conflicts of interest.
In court earlier this month, Campbell District Judge Karen Thomas lambasted Carrollton police and the state’s mental-health system.
“The mental health system is broken,” she said in a July 2 hearing. “We all know that. We all know it is broken. I think everybody knows it’s broken.”
Thomas took over after Chandler removed herself from the case involving Horine’s original charges, as well as the contempt proceedings, which are on hold until a decision is made about criminal charges against Willhoite and Dickow. Thomas promised during the hearing that the two officers would spend 179 days in jail if she found them in contempt.
“I am just appalled that this guy was put on a bus anywhere. Appalled,” Thomas said. “This is appalling; it is seriously appalling that that happened.”
Reporter R.G. Dunlop can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (502) 814.6533.
This story was reported by Louisville Public Media’s Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.