GOSHEN — A former Foraker firefighter who admitted to a charge of criminal sexual conduct with a minor received his sentence Thursday, July 17.
William Hess, 57, of Goshen, was sentenced to eight years on probation during a hearing in Elkhart’s Circuit Court. He will be required to register as a sex offender, and he will be prohibited from being near school grounds, having children at his home or attending graduations.
The court also ordered Hess to write a letter of apology to the family, which will be handed by the prosecutor’s office.
The sentence was stipulated during a plea hearing May 22. An agreement was made between the victims and Hess’ attorney to determine the sentence.
“It’s obvious to me that (the victim) will rise above this,” Judge Terry Shewmaker said. “The shame of it all is that he has to rise above it because of you.”
Hess was initially charged in 2010, after allegations were made by a victim. Testimony from the first victim led detectives to two other victims in 2010 and 2011.
The victim’s parents, as well as the victim, gave testimony to the court through letters they wrote addressing the court.
The victim’s father recounted the first time detectives from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department called his family and told them Hess was under investigation.
He told the court about how his son missed out on important events in his life because of counseling sessions, and the family dynamics as a whole changed.
“After four years of court dates, family meetings, arguments and trying to be the glue that holds my family together, I am numb, exhausted and broken,” he said. “With all that said, I am extremely proud of my family.”
The victim took the stand and talked about how the support of his friends and family, and his faith have helped him move on.
“For a period of my life I was taken advantage of and dragged into a situation based on the sick, selfish desire,” he said. “I am no longer a victim of my past.”
Follow Elkhart truth reporter Sharon Hernandez on Twitter at @Sharon_HT