Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Search of Hill's home was proper

Court says cops had valid warrant in molesting case

By Sharon Coolidge
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Cincinnati police legally searched the home of former Channel 9 reporter Stephen Hill after Hill was accused of sexually molesting four boys, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Hill's attorney, Ken Lawson, tried to have evidence gathered in a search of Hill's home Feb. 27 thrown out, saying the search was illegal. A Hamilton County municipal judge should never have signed the search warrant because the affidavit written by police did not connect the crimes Hill is accused of to his Avondale home, Lawson said.

Assistant Hamilton County Prosecutor Rick Gibson argued the law allowed a judge to use common sense when approving the search.

Hamilton County Common Pleas Judge David Davis said the judge was correct in thinking there was fair probability evidence would be found in Hill's home.

Davis said the search warrant provided detailed information - naming the defendant, the type of alleged activity, the victims and their dates of birth. "When you look at all the facts in the affidavit and the nature of the crime, it's natural to conclude the offense did occur at the residence," Davis said.

Lawson said he still believes the search was illegal, but understands the judge's decision. He said he will not appeal the ruling, but added the issue could be revisited later. Hill, 45, was indicted on eight charges of sexual battery and four charges of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor. He remains jailed in Hamilton County. A trial date will be set Monday.

Hill was involved in a mentoring program during which the four victims - three brothers and a cousin - were in his care, according to Cincinnati police. During their time together, Hill is accused of blindfolding the victims, presenting himself as a woman and engaging them in various forms of sexual conduct, officers wrote in the affidavit to get a search warrant.

Hill videotaped the sexual encounters, police said. Those tapes were seized in the search and part of what Lawson had hoped would be ruled inadmissible at trial if Davis had ruled the search improper.



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