Local News

Former Radio Broadcaster Sentenced To 105 Years For Sex Crimes

Posted April 26, 2005

— A Cumberland County jury found a former radio broadcaster guilty of several counts of sex crimes involving minors Tuesday afternoon.

The jury, which deliberated for just under an hour, found Ethan Hess, 58, guilty of nine counts of various sex crimes, including statutory rape, sexual offenses and taking indecent liberties with a child.

Judge Craig Ellis sentenced Hess to a minimum of 105 years in prison for the crimes of repeatedly molesting three sisters, ranging in ages from 9 to 12.

The jury started deliberating the case about 11:30 a.m. Tuesday and delivered a verdict around 12:30 p.m.

After the verdict, Hess sat emotionless in the courtroom. He was asked if he wanted to speak before the sentencing phase of the trial, but declined.

One victim took the stand to talk about the emotional scars she was left with. She cried during portions of her testimony.

"Give him what he deserves," the girl asked Ellis.

Closing arguments in the case were presented to the jury Tuesday morning.

The prosecutor spoke to the jury for an hour. She said that Hess had sex with three sisters, sometimes at the same time.

She urged jurors to send a message with a conviction.

"Today you need to tell Mr. Hess, 'You can't be around little girls anymore,'" the prosecutor said.

Hess, who defended himself, took 15 minutes with his closing arguments. During that time he argued that the girls changed stories time and again during the trial.

Jurors said they believed the details were too specific to be lies and that Hess never told them the words they needed to hear for them to find him not guilty.

"Somewhere, you have to say I didn't do it, and he didn't," said Mike Mask, a juror in the trial.

Jurors also said they could not believe Hess acted as his own lawyer. Neither could the attorney appointed to help Hess with courtroom procedure.

"I guess being a lawyer and having done this for a long time, I think it was incredibly stupid," Jack Carter said.

Comments

Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all