Saturday, February 28, 2004

Cops arrest Ch. 9 reporter; sex with minors charged

By Janice Morse
The Cincinnati Enquirer

AVONDALE - A Channel 9 reporter was charged Friday with sexually victimizing four children whom he had mentored.

Stephen Hill, a WCPO-TV reporter since 1989, faces eight counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. He was in stable condition at University Hospital late Friday under police guard, suffering from what police described as self-inflicted wounds.

Investigators obtained a search warrant for Hill's Hearne Avenue home after allegations were reported to Cincinnati police Friday morning.

When officers arrived about 8 p.m., they saw Hill standing near the front door, but he retreated to the rear of his residence, said Cincinnati Police Capt. Vince Demasi.

"Repeated attempts by police to re-establish contact with Mr. Hill were ignored," Demasi said. "Fearing for Mr. Hill's safety, officers forced entry into the home."

Officers entered and found Hill had apparently cut himself.

After Hill is released from the hospital, he will be arrested and booked, Demasi said. Records of the charges against Hill were not available late Friday, and Demasi said the search warrant for Hill's residence was not being disclosed because it was to be filed under seal.

Demasi would not specify the children's ages or genders but he said all were under age 18, and that the alleged offenses occurred during the last few years. He said he did not think any formal mentoring group was involved in matching Hill with the children, but he didn't know particulars.

Because of the mentoring relationship, Hill was in almost daily contact with the victims' family members, Demasi said. "He became an integral part of their family unit," he said.

Demasi said investigators think there could be more victims because Hill had been involved in mentoring youths for six years and also had been a foster parent.

He urged any other possible victims to contact Crime Stoppers at 352-3040.

Hill had spent much of his time with WCPO as a member of the station's investigative team.

Bill Fee, vice president and general manager of WCPO-TV, did not address Hill's status with the station, but released this statement:

"The management and staff of WCPO are as shocked and saddened by this story as would be any member of the public. We plan to closely follow this story as it develops over the next several days. There is nothing more we can do at this point other than to say we are concerned primarily for any minors that may have been injured and that the ultimate information will make clear what has happened here. We will cooperate with the police in their investigation."


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