Friday, July 14, 2000

Accused child molester takes his life in Minn.

Former foster parent faced sentence here

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        A former foster parent accused of molesting Butler County boys in the 1980s apparently committed suicide this week in a Minnesota prison, federal officials said.

        Staff members found Stephen Billand, 52, dead about 9 p.m. Tuesday at the Federal Medical Center in Rochester, Minn.

        Mr. Billand, who pleaded no contest in Clermont County in March to four counts of pandering sexually oriented material involving a minor, was due to be shipped back there this month to serve a 20-60 year sentence. Mr. Billand faced similar charges in California.

        “He really ruined some lives. He just took horrible advantage of (the kids),” said Daniel Breyer, assistant Clermont County prosecutor who handled Mr. Billand's case.

        “He had attempted suicide once (in federal prison) before we got him.”

        Prior to Mr. Billand's no contest plea, he faced 24 counts of pandering obscenity, four rape charges and four counts of gross sexual imposition.

        He ran foster homes in Warsaw, Ky., and in Clermont County.

        In February, Judge William Stapleton of Clermont County Common Pleas Court dismissed 11 child-sex charges against Mr. Billand.

        The judge said time limits expired because state or local officials knew about the crimes but failed to prosecute them in the 1980s.

        Although the offenses are alleged to have occurred from 1985-89, Mr. Billand was indicted in 1998 after incriminating photos surfaced at his home in California. He moved there from Clermont County in 1991.

        Mr. Billand was sentenced Nov. 30, 1998, in U.S. District Court in Southern California to 21/2 years for importing marijuana from Mexico and jumping bail.

        He served time in Rochester between April and June 1999. Then he was released to another jurisdiction to resolve a pending court case, and returned in April, said Chris Eichenlaub, spokesman at the Federal Medical Center.

        Autopsy results could be available in one to two weeks, he said.


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