GOSHEN — A former Foraker firefighter facing child sex crime charges could go to trial June 2, more than three years after his charges were filed.
William Hess, 57, of Goshen, will appear in court for his trial status conference Thursday, May 8, at Elkhart Circuit Court. His jury trial is on the first setting, which means his cases are at the top of the court's priority list to go to trial on that date.
Hess faces two counts of child molesting, two counts of dissemination of matter harmful to a minor, four counts of child solicitation, one count of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of vicarious sexual gratification with a minor.
Hess was working at the Foraker Township Fire Department when the Elkhart County Prosecutor's Office filed charges in 2010. The four child solicitation charges were filed in 2011. Added up, Hess faces up 50 years in prison if convicted of all charges.
According to the probable cause affidavit for one of the cases, the information leading to Hess' charges came to light in the summer of that year, when one of the victims reported the incidents at a camp school. The victim's testimony led police to a second victim later in 2010.
One of the victims, who was in his early teens, told police that he and Hess touched each other inappropriately several times. The boy would go to play at Hess' house and was there "a substantial amount of time," according to the affidavit.
A third victim, a woman in her 20s, contacted the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department in 2011, saying she was abused by Hess from when she was 11 to 17 years old, according to the affidavit.
All charges were filed in Superior Court 3, but the cases were transferred to Circuit Court because the family of one of the victims filed a lawsuit in Superior Court 3 as well. The civil case is pending.
Hess' trial status conference is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Thursday.