MARIETTA - After less than an hour of deliberation, a jury returned two guilty verdicts in Washington County Common Pleas Court Wednesday for a Marietta man accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old family member.
Daniel R. Hess, 46, of 728 Mount Tom Road, and his live-in girlfriend, Lacey K. Day, 30, were accused of engaging in sexual acts with the girl on three occasions in early 2010.
Day pleaded guilty to one third-degree felony sexual battery charge and was sentenced in August to two years in prison.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Daniel R. Hess, 46, of Marietta, is handcuffed after a Washington County Common Pleas Court jury found him guilty of two third-degree felony counts of sexual battery.
However, Hess has maintained that his encounters with the girl revolved around his religious belief, which enables him to engage in purely psychic sexual encounters, explained Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings.
"He is a shamanistic pagan psy vamp, which stands for psychic vampire," said Rings, recounting Hess' testimony from Tuesday, when the trial began.
Hess testified he had the ability to engage in sexual relations by transferring psychic energy and therefore never touched the girl, said Rings.
Timeline of Events
* Early 2010: Daniel R. Hess, 46, and Lacey K. Day, 30, of 728 Mount Tom Road, reportedly engage in sexual activities with Hess' 15-year-old female relative.
* March 2012: The victim reports the encounters to a school official.
* March 28: Hess and Day are arrested and charged with sexual battery, a third-degree felony.
* April 1: Hess and Day are indicted on two counts each of sexual battery.
* Aug. 10: After pleading guilty to one count of sexual battery, Day is sentenced to two years in prison.
* Wednesday: Despite Hess' insistence that he only engaged in psychic exchanges with the girl, a jury finds Hess guilty on both third-degree felony counts of sexual battery.
However, the victim's testimony on Tuesday described touching, fondling and traditional sexual intercourse, Rings said.
After the girl came forward, more than two years after the first incident, detectives from the Washington County Sheriff's Office recorded a conversation the girl had with Hess. That conversation was also of an explicit sexual nature, Rings reminded the half-male, half-female jury, who had listened to the conversation on Tuesday.
"On the tape they talk about sex ...he even gives her advice. They never talk about energy sex or being a psy vamp," he said to the jury.
Hess' public defense attorney Jack Blakeslee suggested the victim's long delay in reporting the encounters called her accusations into question.
"This is someone who hated (Hess)," he said.
Blakeslee also questioned the mental health of the victim.
"'I have seen shadows turn into people. I can feel and hear things differently than other people. I thought I was going crazy,'" he said, quoting her testimony.
But the jury found the victim's testimony credible enough to find Hess guilty on two charges of sexual battery, both third-degree felonies.
The victim's mother hugged her family as the sentence was handed down.
"We are extremely happy," said the victim's mother, who added she had been confident of a guilty verdict after Tuesday's testimony.
Day's brother, Charles Day Jr., said he was also satisfied with the verdict. He also indicated he would not be surprised if more victims come forward resulting in more charges for Hess.
"There's way more to this that hasn't been seen yet," he said.
Though adamant that he did not condone his sister's role in the matter, Charles Day asserted Hess is a manipulator and has preyed on other victims.
"I hope he gets the maximum sentence," he said.
At her August sentencing, Day's attorney, Ray Smith, said she had been in multiple abusive relationships, including her relationship with Hess.
Hess is set to be sentenced March 8 at 8 a.m. in Washington County Common Pleas Court. He faces a maximum penalty of five years on each of the two charges, meaning he could serve 10 years in prison.