Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Ex-newsman wins trial delay

Remains jailed on sex charges

By Jane Prendergast
Enquirer staff writer

A former television news reporter's trial on charges that he sexually abused four teenage boys was postponed Monday because the defense needed more time.

Stephen Hill and his lawyer, Ken Lawson, appeared in court for about five minutes after conferring in the jury room. Lawson said he had been unable to "work some things out'' regarding evidence with prosecutor Rick Gibson and needed more time to get ready to defend Hill at a trial.

The trial was set for October.

Gibson said lawyers have talked about a possible plea agreement, but no deal was discussed Monday. He also said there has never been any specific plea agreement on the table.

Gibson described his case against Hill as "as strong as a case can be,'' but he said there are always reasons to consider plea agreements. Among them: finality, ensuring a conviction and letting the victims' family avoid a public trial.

Members of the alleged victims' family sat in the courtroom waiting while the hearing was delayed more than two hours.

"They're not going to back down,'' Gibson said. "They want to see him punished for what he's done.''

Hill, 45, of Avondale, has pleaded not guilty.

Hill worked at WCPO-TV (Ch. 9) until March, when he was arrested and charged with 12 counts of sexual battery and unlawful conduct with a minor. Authorities say he blindfolded four boys and led them to believe they were having sexual contact with a woman when it was Hill.

Hill has remained jailed since his arrest.


E-mail jprendergast@enquirer.com

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