Jury convicts man for sexual assault of girl, 15

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.

However, Hess has maintained that his encounters with the girl revolved around his religious belief set, 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 that he had the ability to engage in sexual relations by transferring psychic energy and therefore never touched the girl, said Rings.

However, the victim’s testimony on Tuesday described touching, fondling and traditional sexual intercourse, he 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 jury, evenly divided among men and women. The jury 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 that 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 that 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 that 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 that 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.