Although I am not licensed in Oregon, I grew up there and was a news reporter for several years in that state, during which time I covered the cops and courts beat. My practice in Washington state deals in family law matters. As such, I can comment as to my knowledge of family law and court proceedings, but my comments are general analysis, not legal advice.
Kaine Horman’s pleadings of October 25, 2010, unleashed a tempest of charges against his wife, claiming she was a raging drunk whose inability to control her anger and her drinking had already caused her to give up custody of one child prior to the disappearance of her stepson on June 4, 2010. Unlike his prior, more tersely-written court filings, Mr. Horman’s words are more personal and angry. They are also contradicted by his prior statements to the court and to the media, and the very documentation he provided as part of his October 25 court papers.
The latest round of pleadings from Mr. Horman seems to fit a far bigger effort by Mr. Horman and Desiree Young to push Ms. Horman to the point where she would be forced to speak in her own defense. Ms. Horman’s own writings within days of Kryon’s disappearance evidence her Achilles heel in that Ms. Horman complained loudly about criticism heaped upon her via the internet.
What followed was a whisper campaign of purported law enforcement leaks about Ms. Horman and people around her that has continually kept her name in the news since June 4, 2010. Mr. Horman’s court filings also evidence an effort to keep Ms. Horman under constant public scrutiny, by filing multiple motions over time that could have been either avoided or filed jointly.
Consider this: Kaine Horman failed to mention in his June 28, 2010, restraining order application that he wanted his wife out of the house and, as a result, on July 1, 2010, filed an amended petition for restraints and asked for an expedited hearing.
“..This omission is an odd oversight, considering that Mr. Horman filed for divorce, took the parties’ child, but failed to ask for the house. Possession of the family home is such a basic issue it would seem impossible for a family law attorney to forget to mention it in a party’s opening paper…”
Filing a separate motion to seek return of the family home seems like a good strategy for someone seeking to keep the focus on Ms. Horman. It’s new information to the media, whereas the fact that Kryon remained missing and Mr. Horman and Ms. Young’s suspicions about Ms. Horman were yesterday’s headline.
Early on in criminal investigation and prior to the divorce filing, Mr. Horman described his wife in benign terms. As the weeks stretch on, these descriptions became increasingly negative. Mr. Horman and Ms. Young both stated their objective was to keep the focus on Kyron. In the absence of anything new to report, both parents embarked on a campaign to slowly heap increasing pressure on Ms. Horman to talk.
From the law enforcement perspective, Ms. Horman is a natural suspect, given her relationship to the victim and the fact that she was the last person known to have been seen with him. Except for anonymous leaks and rumors, the only people who have put their names to allegations are Mr. Horman and Kyron’s mother Desiree Young. Both claim their information comes from law enforcement, but both have disagreed at times as to the credibility of the information they shared publicly. Such was the case with Ms. Young’s claim that Kyron was last seen outside the school near a white truck, while Mr. Horman quickly corrected her, saying the information had not been confirmed.
“..Without Ms. Young and Det. Tony Young in the room, Mr. Horman seems to have gone off script and now cannot control his message nor his anger. Mr. Horman angrily complains about horrible things that might have happened in front of Kiara, yet he cannot say what exactly became of Kyron, and whether there is any evidence to suggest Kiara was a witness to this unspecified event…”
In his most recent pleadings, Mr. Horman angrily recounts that Ms. Horman claimed she was going to the gym, but since their separation, he has come to believe that she spent the time talking to people and flirting. The portrait of a social butterfly chatting people up at the gym for hours on end doesn’t quite fit with Mr. Horman’s other claims that she was an angry, depressed new mother who drank her self blotto and could not maintain any sort of civility toward those around her.
Which is it? Was Ms. Horman a mean drunk who drank herself to sleep, or was she self-absorbed and social, staying up to all hours playing on the Internet while her child sat in the same room unattended and un-engaged? Or was she a social butterfly who spent most of her time outside the home while Mr. Horman was super dad, working long hours from home, caring for the children, and providing an income that he never could enjoy because Ms. Horman was spending it all? The claims are so disjointed, it is as though Mr. Horman decided to throw spaghetti at the wall, just to see what might stick.
Mr. Horman’s over-reaching was fore shadowed in an earlier motion filed on July 12, 2010, alleging Ms. Horman had violated the courts seal on the restraining order. The pleadings in the contempt matter went well beyond Mr. Horman’s claim that Ms. Horman allegedly disclosed confidential court papers to Michael Cook.
Mr. Horman asserted that Ms. Horman was involved with a sexual relationship with Mr. Cook and had sent him hundreds of text messages, most of which were sexual in nature (AKA “sexting”). These text messages allegedly included images of “graphic sexual activity,” though no such photos have been filed with the court.
“..Mr. Horman accused Ms. Horman of lacking any genuine affection for Kyron or Kiara saying that although her texts said she missed both children, the mentions were few. The implication of the narrative was that Ms. Horman could not possibly care about either child…”
Except for the specific passage alleging Ms. Horman shared a confidential document with Mr. Cook, none of the other allegations had anything to do with the underlying motion. None of these claims addressed the issue of whether Ms. Horman violated the court order, nor do they indicate any involvement by Ms. Horman in Kyron’s disappearance.
Mr. Horman went on to claim that an unnamed member or members of law enforcement “informed” him that the sexualized text messages “resemble” text messages sent to the “the man Respondent [Ms. Horman] previously attempted to hire to murder Petitioner [Mr. Horman].” Mr. Horman claimed in the same July 1 2court papers that Ms. Horman had asked Mr. Cook to lie to her attorney about “the fact that she had gone to Mr. Cook’s home.”
One news outlet found Mr. Horman’s pleadings so lurid it titled the document “sleazy.pdf” before posting it to its website.
On October 25, 2010, Mr. Horman finally filed the aforementioned text messages with the court, as an exhibit attached to his response to Ms. Horman’s parenting time request. A review of these document reveals that Ms. Horman never asked Mr. Cook to lie, nor did she speak of Kyron and Kiara in dismissive tones. Although most of the texts showed varying degrees of sexual discussion, there were also several texts that had nothing to do with Ms. Horman’s romantic attachments. Ms. Horman discussed cooking, eating “nutterbutter bites,” weight lifting, and their respective children.
..”Ms. Horman told Mr. Cook, “I was really upset that Kaine has Kitty but doesn’t know what her favorite toy or blanket is.”
A parent who does not care about her daughter would not waste a single moment worrying about her child having her favorite toy or blanket. The allegation that Mr. Horman did not know such basic information about his daughter provides motive for Mr. Horman to attempt to discredit Ms. Horman’s words as insincere. Otherwise, Ms. Horman’s words are truthful and reflect her historical relationship as primary care giver to both children.
On July 28, 2010, Mr. Horman filed yet another motion demanding Ms. Horman reveal the source of funds used to pay her lawyer. It was as though Mr. Horman was asking how Ms. Horman could have ever come up with that kind of money, given her status as a social pariah?
The problem with Mr. Horman’s strategy of piecemeal litigation it does not serve the purpose of expediting litigation. Instead, it creates a lot of embarrassment and harassment for Ms. Horman.
Oregon is a no-fault divorce state. This means that either party can ask for a divorce without having to prove any wrongdoing. Oregon is also an “equitable distribution” state which means that the court divides property equitably between the parties. Issues like infidelity and rude behavior are not factors in whether a party is entitled to divorce, or in dividing up the parties assets.
Mr. Horman raises several issues about Ms. Horman’s alleged conduct citing them as as basis to award sole custody and care of Kiara. The allegations are such that it becomes difficult for Ms. Horman to leave any responses up to her lawyer, who would not have personal knowledge required to speak to the many issues he raises.
Ultimately, the court will consider the allegations made by each party, weigh the credibility and relevance of each claim as to parenting issues then enter a temporary order as to the care and custody of the child.
Mr. Horman claims in his October 25 filings that Ms. Horman has a five year history of alcohol impairment. In his statement to the court, Mr. Horman claimed that his wife “could have an un diagnosed personality disorder or some type of emotional disturbance.”
The most recent claims by Mr. Horman are contradicted by his prior assertions in media interviews, and the actual chronology of the Hormans’ relationship.
Mr. Horman met Ms. Horman in the spring of 2002. According to Mr. Horman, the couple moved in together in December 2002. The couple was living together when Ms. Horman was cited for DUI on July 10, 2005. Two years later, the couple moved to their home on NW Sheltered Nook Road in January 2007.
Despite the DUI, Mr. Horman nonetheless went on to marry Ms. Horman on April 15, 2007. Ms. Horman gave birth to Kiara on November 12, 2008.
In a prior interview with KGW, Mr. Horman called Ms. Horman “a good person when we first met and for several years (I’d say up until 2008). She was always about children (teaching) and helping them grow and develop. Her attitude was always about those types of things first, her own self not even being a priority close to that. I believe that this is the Terri that everyone else saw and got to know as I did. Honestly everyone, including myself, that knew her or knows her did not see this coming. She was not the type of person we are seeing right now.”
Mr. Horman told KGW that he was blindsided by Kyron’s disappearance: “There were some signs of emotional distress here and there over the past year and a half but not enough of that directed at any one person to conclude she would be capable of anything even remotely close to events of the severity we have all seen. She recently got her teaching license re-instated and has been applying for teaching positions so even the state of Oregon didn’t see this coming.”
The person described in Mr. Horman’s October 25 court papers is not someone who could be described as hidden danger. If believed, Mr. Horman’s most recent statement outline a terrifying picture of a five-year pattern of child abuse and endangerment. Mr. Horman could not possibly be telling the truth in both of his interview with KGW and in his more recent court papers.
Also in the October 25 filing, Mr. Horman claims that he has always been the primary care giver to both Kiara and Kyron and describes Ms. Horman as frequently absent from their home, apparently leaving him with both children.
In a July 28, 2010, Oregonian article, Mr. Horman claimed Kiara was a much different child now that Ms. Horman was gone. He claimed Kiara did not ask about her mom. “‘She’s a new kid,’ he said. ‘She’s whole new kid now.’”
In a separate article, Mr. Horman discussed Ms. Horman’s excessive involvement in Kyron’s schooling and adamant enforcement of discipline. “He [Mr. Horman] said when Kyron brought home anything but a green card [indicating good behavior at school] she [Ms. Horman] wanted Kaine to discipline him by grounding him to his room for the evening.”
Mr. Horman also asserts in his October 25 court papers that Ms. Horman would put Kiara in the gym day care for “hours at a time,” and further claimed that Ms. Horman “spent more time on the computer than caring for the children.” If Mr. Horman was home and providing primary care for the children, then how would Kiara have ended up in day care for “hours at at time”? How would the children have remained unattended while Ms. Horman was updating her Facebook page?
Mr. Horman’s other narrative seems to indicate that Mr. Horman was not present in the home during the day, leaving Ms. Horman to care for the children. It also contradicts Mr. Horman’s escalating accusations that Ms. Horman was absent from the home, uninvolved, and not involved with the care of Kyron and Kiara.
Mr. Horman also claims in his pleadings that Ms. Horman’s son James lived with them until Feb 5, 2010, when he moved because Ms. Horman “was unable to interact with James on a healthy level and had him move to her parents’ home in Roseburg.”
Mr. Horman also claimed he was unaware of any landscaper, a detail which contradicts his most recent work-from-home story: “No, I did not know we had a landscaper and have never met him.” If he was at home, surely he would have known about a landscaper.
On July 8, 2010, Mr. Horman told the Oregonian that Ms. Horman began having problems with postpartum depression in November 2008.
“‘I thought the marriage was doing pretty well,’ Kaine Horman said during a one-on-one interview with The Oregonian, ‘until we had our daughter, Kiara.’ Horman said he thought his marriage to Terri Moulton Horman fractured within six months after she gave birth in November 2008, the result of postpartum depression.Terri Horman was put on medication for the depression, and her doctor told Kaine to keep an eye on her to make sure she was OK, he said. But she wasn’t OK.
If Mr. Horman thought Ms. Horman was a chronic danger to her children and Mr. Horman’s son,why did he not mention it prior to October 25, 2010? Could it be that Mr. Horman’s entire series of pleadings are designed to push Ms. Horman with ever-increasing allegations to the point where she has no choice but to respond?
There are other clues that Mr. Horman’s latest version of events is not entirely accurate. According to more recent news stories, James is again living with his mother. Strange, considering Mr. Horman’s claims that James changed high schools mid-semester and moved hundreds of miles because of Ms. Horman’s behavior.
There are also hints concerning law enforcement’s interest in the Horman dissolution. A June 6, 2010, letter from Norm W. Frink, chief deputy district attorney for Multnomah County, rescinded his statement that un sealing the restraining order would undermine the “ongoing criminal investigation.” If Ms. Horman was the target of the investigation, what purpose would be served by sealing court documents that were to be served upon Ms. Horman? The only other person identified in the pleadings was an unnamed landscaper alleged to have been contacted by Ms. Horman.
As we now know, the landscaper was involved in what has been characterized as a botched sting operation against Ms. Horman. As such, the only person protected by the the seal was Ms. Horman to the extent that the seal prevented the allegations from being disseminated publicly. Or could it be that law enforcement was concerned about accuracy of the information provided by the landscaper?
Law enforcement conducted its sting operation over open channels that were accessible to anyone listening on police channels. Was this an oversight, or was it a convenient way to ensure the information was released “unintentionally”?
If there was any blame for promoting a bogus murder for hire plot, law enforcement could point to Ms. Horman as bringing upon her own misery. She chose to disclose the documents, and as a result, the information was disseminated because of her actions in violating a court order, not law enforcement’s efforts to run out a possible lead, even if later proven false.
We don’t know what role Michael Cook played in the disclosure of the now-public restraining order. The texts between he and Ms. Horman seems to indicate Mr. Cook was not so much interested in sexual banter as much as he was in gathering information for Mr. Horman
The roles of Mr. Cook and the landscaper are highly relevant to evidentiary issues. If the landscaper was a confidential informant, the information he reported that was used as basis for the restraining order could not then be considered an admission against interest. Same thing applies to Mr. Cook.
Mr. Cook in particular seems not to be acting out of concern for Kyron. Who the hell smirks at a vigil for a missing child?)
Reading Mr. Cook’s texts to Terri, there’s a tone that suggests that someone was sitting right next to him, telling him what to type. If true, the question becomes who is that someone guiding Mr. Cook’s actions?
The sexting is weird, but it is hardly ground breaking. The courts have heard such allegations many times before, and without a doubt, the court has seen far worse. That is not to see the court is going to like the texts. Rather, the judge here is going to look at the pleadings with a critical eye for issues that affect parenting time.
Mr. Horman does not offer any evidence that Ms. Horman ever sexted when she should have been parenting. To the contrary Ms. Horman’s lawyers can point to Mr. Horman’s other statements as evidence that Ms. Horman was the primary care giver for James, Kyron, and Kiara. Her extensive collection of family photographs on her Facebook page support this assertion.
Mr. Horman cannot credibly claim that Ms. Horman was a threat to the children, considering that he often left the kids in her care. Mr. Horman did not have any concerns about Ms. Horman’s sobriety and fitness to care for the children the morning Kryon disappeared from school, as he left Kiara in her care and allowed her to take Kyron to school.
If she was a drunk and mean spirited, would Mr. Horman have have allowed Ms. Horman to have access to Kyron’s school records, and to become involved in his discipline? Ms. Horman was a step parent to Kyron. She had no rights except to that which Mr. Horman granted in signed consent forms required by Kyron’s school.
The text messages are racy, but they do not indicate any homicidal tendencies or ill will toward anyone. Nothing in the texts is homicidal by any stretch.
Mr. Horman’s source for his allegations poses a huge problem here. He cites to “law enforcement” as telling him Ms. Horman tried to hire a hit-man, and as to other issues. Not one of these allegations is admissible under any exception to hearsay. The fact that Mr. Horman does not identify the source is a problem in itself. This information might as well be graffiti on the wall of the public bathroom at the Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office.
Were Mr. Horman to say that he read an allegation on the a bathroom wall at the MCSO would at least give it some sort of context that would suggest credibility. Mr. Horman’s vague claim makes it impossible to identify which law enforcement office among thousands in the United States might have conveyed such information. Without further identification, the reader cannot tell if the “source” was in a position to have any such knowledge in the first place.
The hearsay allegations offered by Mr. Horman allege child abuse and domestic violence. Under the Confrontation Clause, Ms. Horman has a right to confront her accusers. Ms. Horman does not need to speak in order for her lawyers to cross examine the sources of these allegations.
“..Mr. Horman claims that judges believe there is sufficient information to implicate Ms. Horman in Kyron’s disappearance. This begs the question: How is it that Mr. Horman is getting this information?”
It seems likely that Mr. Horman is referring to search warrants, which require reliable information that the item sought can be found at that location. If Mr. Horman was in fact referring to search warrants, it would be very interesting to find out who provided the information for the searches and what exactly was law enforcement looking for?
If Mr. Horman was the informant, it raises questions as to motive because Mr. Horman wants custody of Kiara. If the landscaper was the affiant, his personal motive for revenge becomes an issue, if it true that Ms. Horman had law enforcement go to his house and expose his extramarital affair in front of his family.
What law enforcement was seeking matters. Ms. Horman’s specialty was in teaching children with learning disabilities. She would have had access to confidential psychological testing, mental health records, medical documents, and possibly, CPS records, none of which could be disclosed except by parent authorization, or pursuant to subpoena or search warrant. Even though she had not worked in that area for some time, she may still have had such records in her home or on her laptop.
If Ms. Horman had such documents or data on her laptop or among her personal papers, she could not turn it over except by subpoena. As such, the mere presence of a search warrant does not mean Ms. Horman is guilty of anything.
..”Mr. Horman’s threat to conduct extensive depositions seems a clear warning to Ms. Horman that he intends to call Ms. Horman’s friends to deposition, put them under oath, and ask them questions. Lots of questions. If Mr. Horman’s pleadings are any sort of a hint, he is not going to make people feel good about befriending Ms. Horman…”
Peter Bunch’s statements at the prior court hearing referencing a December 26 call to 9-1-1 also suggests that maybe something happened the day after Christmas 2009. The implication is that Mr. Bunch intends to discuss that December 26 9-1-1 call in more detail. Don’t expect Mr. Horman to like any of it.
Discovery procedures allow Mr. Horman to get at any information reasonably calculated to lead to discovery of admissible evidence. This does not mean the information specifically sought must be admissible, only that it could reasonably lead to evidence that would be admissible. By that definition, Mr, Horman could justify deposing a great many people in Ms. Horman’s life.
Peter Bunch’s statements at the prior court hearing referencing a December 26 call to 9-1-1 also suggests that maybe something happened the day after Christmas 2009.
Clearly, each of these people has reason to avoid going back to court.
The most confusing aspect of this case is the fact that the restraining order and dissolution were consolidated months ago. Ms. Horman’s attorney notes this in his July 12, 2010, letter to the court.
Given that there is an abatement order in place, how is it that Ms. Horman can go forward with her request for parenting time under the restraining order matter? You would think that Ms. Rackner would have noted this information to the court. But she didn’t. Yet another strange footnote in a even stranger case.
Law enforcement likes to push the weakest link. Ms. Horman seems to be that link. What information does law enforcement hope to gain? Who is law enforcement’s ultimate target?
..”If not Ms. Horman exclusively, or Ms. Horman in any capacity, then who exactly does law enforcement hope to catch by pushing Ms. Horman until she finally breaks?”
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