Saturday, March 6, 2004

Channel 9's Hill pleads not guilty


'Substantially more' charges said to be likely

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

[photo]
Channel 9 reporter Stephen Hill, in jail on a $250,000 bond, cut his wrists and neck just before his March 1 arrest.
The Enquirer/TONY JONES
A WCPO-TV reporter accused of sexually abusing four boys pleaded not guilty to the charges Friday as the prosecutor said more charges involving more victims are likely.

Judge Karla Grady ordered Stephen Hill jailed on $250,000 bond on eight counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. She also ordered him to have no contact with the alleged victims or their family members.

A grand jury has 10 days to hear the case.

Hill, 45, stood quietly in court dressed in a yellow jumpsuit - the uniform of inmates on suicide watch. His parents and sisters crowded into the front row.

"He's not a risk to flee," said Ken Lawson, Hill's attorney. He asked that bond be set at a lower amount, which Grady denied.

When Cincinnati police officers went to the Hill's Avondale home to arrest him March 1, he cut his wrists and throat, forcing officers to break down the door. He remained hospitalized until Thursday night, when he was released and taken to the Hamilton County jail.

Hill's arm and neck were bandaged and he had a cast on one arm.

Assistant Prosecutor Richard Gibson asked for the high bond.

"There is a possibility there are other victims," Gibson said. "There will be substantially more charges when this comes out of grand jury."

Gibson said the alleged offenses occurred over several years, involve children and were an abuse of trust.

Police say Hill, a former foster parent, 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. The alleged victims were said not to be foster children.

Hill has mentored inner-city children. But his exact relationship with the four boys remains unclear.

Hill's family believes the boys set him up.

According to court records, Hill is accused of engaging in sexual conduct with two boys, who are now 18 and 17, over nearly three years. Contact with two younger boys, ages 15 and 14, allegedly took place between March 2003 and January.

When asked why Hill harmed himself as police arrived, Lawson said his client was depressed because he had recently been removed from Channel 9's investigative team and was worried about his career in Cincinnati.

E-mail scoolidge@enquirer.com




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