Tuesday, March 2, 2004

Reporter denies charges

WCPO-TV's Hill will fight sex allegations, lawyer says

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

A WCPO-TV reporter and former Hamilton County foster parent accused of sexually abusing four teenage boys is not guilty, his attorney said Monday.

Ken Lawson, who is representing Channel 9 reporter Stephen Hill, refused to discuss the allegations or why he says Hill is innocent.

"Everything will come out through the court, where this should be tried," Lawson said.

Hill, 45, a reporter for WCPO-TV since 1989, was arrested Friday night on eight charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. Police say he sexually abused four teenage boys between March 2001 and January 2004 at his Avondale home and a Walnut Hills apartment where he used to live.

As officers arrived at his home to make the arrest, Hill cut his neck and wrists, police said. He should be released this week from University Hospital, Lawson said, and will face arraignment at that time.

Hill's family believes he was set up by the boys, his brother-in-law told The Cincinnati Enquirer on Saturday. Three of the four boys have the same last name.

According to court records, Hill is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with the boys on "numerous'' occasions.

The incidents allegedly happened over nearly three years with the two oldest boys, now ages 18 and 17. Contact with the two younger boys, ages 15 and 14, allegedly took place between March 2003 and this January.

Officers took items from the house, but a list was not available Monday because a judge sealed it.

Lawson urged people to remember that a person is innocent until proven guilty.

"Anytime you have allegations being made against an adult brought by juveniles, there are a lot of emotions involved because there is a natural tendency from all of us to protect young children," Lawson said. "We forget sometimes about presumption of innocence.''

In Ohio, a charge of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor is a fourth-degree felony, punishable by up to 11/2 years in prison. However, the law says if an offender is 10 or more years older than a victim, the charge is bumped up and punishable by up to five years in prison.

Also Monday, a 19-year-old Avondale man was arrested and charged with breaking into Hill's home on Hearne Avenue.

Police charged Reginald Baker, of the 3400 block of Dury Avenue, with burglary, after police found him inside Hill's home about 8:30 a.m. An intrusion alarm alerted police.


E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com

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