Journal-Times (Grayson, KY)

Local News

April 18, 2012

Hollingsworth conviction upheld in federal appeals court

April 18, 2012 —     CINCINNATI — A federal appeals court has upheld the conviction of a former Carter County deputy jailer convicted in 2010 of sexually abusing female inmates.

    In a ruling handed down last week, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Keith Hollingsworth’s argument jurors in Hollingsworth’s trial were prejudiced by a judge’s decision to “prior bad acts” testimony from four women who said they engaged in sexual acts with Hollingsworth, but who were not directly involved with the criminal case.

    “Given the overwhelming evidence of Hollingsworth’s guilt, the district court’s decision to admit the testimony of the four witnesses was, at most, harmless error because it is unlikely that the jury’s verdict was substantially swayed by the testimony,” the ruling states.

    Hollingsworth, 45, was convicted Oct. 13, 2010, of sexually abusing a ward in his custody by engaging in sexual acts with a woman who was in the Carter jail as a federal prisoner in 2006, and of violating the constitutional rights of another inmate by touching her in a sexual manner while she was sleeping in her cell in 2007. The charges were the result of an investigation launched by the U.S. Marshal Service and the FBI following the 2006 incident.

    Hollingsworth worked as the jail’s maintenance man in addition to being a deputy. He is the brother-in-law of former Carter Jailer Randy Binion and the brother of Binion’s wife, Sheila, who worked as a deputy jailer matron at the lockup prior to her husband leaving office at the end of 2010, having been defeated in May Democratic primary that year.

    On March 14, 2011, U.S. District Judge David L. Bunning sentenced Hollingsworth to 44 months in prison, two months less than the maximum term he could have received. The judge also ordered Hollingsworth receive treatment for sex addiction while he is in prison and register as a sex offender following his release.

    In his appellate brief, Hollingsworth’s attorney, Jeffrey C. Mando of Covington, argued Bunning erred by allowing the testimony of the four women, and any probative value their testimony might have had was outweighed by the prejudice it caused to Hollingsworth.

    Mando also requested the appeals court consider whether the admission of the women’s testimony “amounted to harmless error” when the remainder of the government’s evidence against Hollingsworth “was circumstantial and disputed and the trial court’s erroneous limiting instruction encouraged the jury to consider the proof for improper and irrelevant purposes.”

    Bunning overruled pretrial motions to exclude the testimony of the four women, but the judge instructed jurors it could only be considered to show “plan, pattern, intent, motive, opportunity and knowledge,” and not to determine whether Hollingsworth was guilty of the offenses with which he was charged.

    One of the witnesses, Marilyn Smith, testified she and Hollingsworth engaged in a sexual relationship while she was incarcerated in the Carter County lockup. The others testified Hollingsworth, who was in charge of the jail’s commissary, would frequently provide cigarettes to female inmates in exchange for them flashing their breasts to him.

    Hollingsworth is serving his sentence at the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, La., according to the Bureau of Prisons’ online inmate locator. His projected release date is June 27, 2014.

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