Pomeroy Man on Trial in Alleged Rape Case of Child

Editor’s Note: The Meigs Independent Press does not identify victims or alleged victims in such cases, particularly while the trial is on-going. In this instance it is an minor and she will not be identified. All suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

POMEROY, Ohio — A Pomeroy man is trial for his alleged actions resulting in charges of rape and gross sexual imposition.

John W. Hess, Jr. of Pomeroy, was charged in two separate cases ranging in severity of charges from gross sexual imposition to rape. The cases were merged for purposes of trial. In case 18CR231, Hess was charged with three counts of Rape, all felonies of the first degree. He was indicted in the first case on October 10, 2018. In case 19CR052, Hess was charged with two counts of Gross Sexual Imposition, both felonies of the third degree along with one count of Rape, a felony of the first degree and Dissemenating Matter Harmful to Juveniles, a felony of the fifth degree. He was indicted on those counts by the Meigs County Grand Jury on February 6, 2019. The charges have merged for one trial. Hess has been held on a $500,000 bond with no 10 percent down allowed. Hess appeared in court with his counsel, Britt Wiseman.

The jury was chosen about 11:30 a.m. on September 17, 2019 in the Meigs County Court of Common Pleas. Following admonition and instructions by Judge Linda Warner, the court took a lunch break and returned at 1:20 p.m. with further instructions being given to the trial before hearing opening statements. The state was represented by Meigs County Prosecuting Attorney James Stanley and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Adkins.

In opening statements, Stanley outlined the state’s case of abuse the alleged victim endured at the hands of John W. Hess. The alleged victim in the case is currently 12 years old, but was between the ages of 7-9 when the alleged sexual assaults were supposed to have happened. “She was very young when these incidents happened to her,” Stanley told the jury in opening statements. He said the state would prove the case that John W. Hess did rape the child on more than one occasion and that the defendant also showed the child a pornographic video and then told the child he wanted to commit the acts seen with her. Stanley also said that the alleged victim did not say anything to anyone because John W. Hess had threatened to kill her and her family if she told.

Wiseman then gave the opening statement for the defense. He told the jury that there was no evidence in the case including no physical evidence, search warrant or other such evidence. “There’s no nothing,” he stated and added that just because an accusation was made, it did not make it true. Throughout the opening statement Wiseman referred to the prosecution as “the government” and said, “Our position is clear, none of this happened…The government has not met its burden of proof.”

Opening statements ended about 2:06 p.m. and were followed by the prosecution’s first witness, Investigator Michael Oliver. Oliver works for the Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office as an investigator specifically assigned to the Meigs County Children’s Services. Oliver testified that he received a call concerning a complaint involving a minor victim. According to the complaint the child was sexually abused by the defendant, John W. Hess. Oliver said such alleged victims are referred to the Child Protection Center in Chillicothe, Ohio. The CPC specializes in interviewing such alleged victims. Oliver testified that the defendant was eventually brought to the Middleport Jail interview room for questioning. After being advised of his rights, Oliver said Hess invoked his rights and the interview was over.

On cross examination, Wiseman questioned if Oliver had done due diligence in investigating the case. Over and over again the questions were rephrased but were related to trying to make the investigation seem incomplete. Wiseman brought up another interview from 2015 conducted with the same alleged victim following another complaint with another individual. Oliver said that interview had nothing to do with the case at hand he was investigating. “I spoke with everyone in the report,” Oliver testified.

Following cross examination, Adkins asked Oliver about the child being threatened. Oliver stated she had been and that it had been two and half years since the alleged incidents occured which would make certain physical evidence not available for collection.

After a few more back and forths on redirect and recross, Julie Oakes, executive director of the Child Prevention Center took the stand for the prosecution. Oakes testified to her credientials and what the center does to minimize trauma to victims by conducting the interviews for law enforcement. She said the CPC works with nine counties, Adena Health, multiple mental health agencies, law enforcement, and child protection services. She said they do not investigate allegations but conduct interviews with children that have experienced various forms of trauma. She also testified that children often repress memories that are traumatic.

On cross examination by Wiseman, Oakes testified that she did conduct an interview with the alleged victim in 2015. Testimony ended for the day about 4:15 p.m.

The jury was again admonitioned by Judge Warner not to discuss the case, read about it or otherwise and testimony would resume at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, September 18.

John W. Hess, Jr. was charged along with his brother, James L. Hess, 52, of Pomeroy. James L. Hess is to be tried separate from John. James L. Hess was charged in case 18CR233 with three counts of Gross Sexual Imposition, two felonies of the third degree and one a felony of the fourth degree, along with two counts of Rape, both felonies of the first degree. James L. Hess has remained incarcerated while awaiting trial for his case with a bond set at $500,000 with no 10 percent done allowed.

The alleged victim in the case is set to take the stand tomorrow for the state along with James L. Hess who is expected to testify for the defense.

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