An 18-year-old London man pleaded guilty on Friday, April 11, to molesting a 4-year-old city girl last September.
Cameron B. Hester appeared before Madison County Common Pleas Judge Eamon Costello who accepted the plea and ordered a pre-sentence investigation.
Hester’s sentencing is set for June 12.
At the start of Friday’s hearing, Costello cautioned the victim’s family and other supporters in the courtroom against emotional outbursts. A disruption during a March 13 hearing in the case prompted Costello to order a spectator removed from the room. The man was offended by a joking exchange between the judge and defense attorney Mike Murray, regarding potential penalties facing Hester if convicted of gross sexual imposition.
Extra deputies were on hand Friday to maintain order.
Costello said he understood the frustration expressed by the victim’s family on March 13.
“I understand how you may have thought we were treating it lightly,” he said. “But, we were dealing with a complex legal issue.”
All spectators were orderly on Friday.
Murray initially sought a psychiatric evaluation for Hester to determine the man’s ability to stand trial. Hester has a history of mental illness, including several stays at psychiatric facilities on the East Coast. Local mental health professionals found Hester competent and able to assist with his own defense.
The man could go to prison for as long as five years and be ordered to pay up to $10,000 for the third-degree felony conviction. Community control is another option, pending outcome of the pre-sentence investigation.
He also faces classification as a Tier 2 sex offender, with reporting requirements for the next 25 years.
In other common pleas court action on Friday:
Steven L. Taggart, 28, formerly of London, was arraigned on burglary and receiving stolen property charges, stemming from local break-ins in June 2012.
Taggart is accused of stealing keys to a home on U.S. Route 42 near London, then burglarizing that home several times between June 21-27, 2012.
Magistrate Lauren Kimmel entered a “not guilty” plea for Taggart and appointed Murray to represent the man at a June 9 trial.
Taggart is currently serving four years in prison for robbery in Franklin County. His current release date is Feb. 10, 2016.
Jane Beathard may be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.