15 year sentence for LaPlace man who molested a juvenile
LaPlace- On Wednesday, Judge Nghana Lewis handed down the Court’s sentence to criminal defendant, Herbert Hille, Jr., for his conviction of Molestation of a Juvenile. Hille, 73 years old from Laplace, pled guilty on July 13, 2021, to the charge of Molestation of a Juvenile for his involvement in the repeated molestation of a young child in his care that occurred over a number of years. Rather than face a St. John the Baptist Parish criminal jury for the charge of Molestation of a Juvenile, Hille agreed to plea guilty to the offense. The juvenile victim and her immediate family were actively involved in the preparation and prosecution of the case, ultimately expressing their desire to offer the plea to Hille after careful consideration of the facts and circumstances surrounding the case.
The molestation came to light when the young victim confided in a classmate that an extended family member had acted inappropriately with her. Having heard this, the young classmate took quick and appropriate action by bringing the information to school administrators. School administrators thereafter notified the victim’s family and law enforcement officials of the crime.
Detectives from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office coordinated a forensic interview for the child, to allow her a safe and secure environment to begin making her disclosure of the crimes that had been committed upon her. In two separate forensic interviews, a specially trained Deputy from the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office met with the victim at the Audrey Hepburn CARE Center and helped her to feel comfortable in fully disclosing the terrible facts surrounding the molestation, which had been committed upon her by a member of her extended family. The child described various incidents of molestation including that Hille had inappropriately touched the victim on a number of occasions, Hille had lewdly displayed his genitals before the child, and that Hille had made the child touch Hille’s genitals.
In response to the information divulged by the young victim, Detectives from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office obtained an arrest warrant for Hille, along with a search warrant for Hille’s residence. On May 7, 2019, officers from the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office located Hille at his residence and executed the search warrant, and as a result located evidence corroborating the statements of the child. This evidence included an electric massager that was used by Hille to inappropriately touch the body of the victim.
Hille was questioned prior to his arrest, where he admitted to having touched the child and that the child had previously touched his penis. While Hille attempted to diminish his actions, he ultimately apologized for his inappropriate behavior. Hille was arrested after his statement and was subsequently booked into the St. John the Baptist Parish Prison. He was released on a $50,000.00 bond pending trial by Ad Hoc Judge Kirk Vaughn.
Prosecutors from the St. John the Baptist District Attorney’s Office worked diligently with the St. John Sheriff’s Office, St. Charles Sheriff’s Office, and with Child Abuse Expert Anne Troy of the Audrey Hepburn Care Center at Children’s Hospital. In pretrial proceedings, Prosecutors sought permission to utilize the recorded forensic interviews of the juvenile victim rather than live testimony of the child. Assistant District Attorney J. Philip Prescott, Jr. argued before the 40th Judicial District Judge that the select provisions of law were enacted to provide specific protections for young victims of abuse so as not to further traumatize them, and the Court agreed. While out of Court statements are typically not allowed in trial, the law provides exceptions to protect the most vulnerable.
On July 13, 2021, Hille, who had no prior criminal history, agreed to accept the terms of the offer provided by the District Attorney’s Office after prosecutors appeared before Judge Lewis and declared that they were prepared to proceed with the trial of the matter. Thus, prior to a jury being called in for jury duty the following morning, Hille admitted his guilt in open court and before the victim’s immediate family. The matter was then set by the Court for sentencing on August 4, 2021.
At the sentencing hearing Wednesday, Judge Lewis remanded Hille to the custody of the Department of Corrections. She ordered that he serve fifteen (15) years, without the benefit of probation, parole, or suspension of sentence. Hille will be required to register as a sex offender should he be released from incarceration in the future. Hille was also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500.00 and Court Costs.
The maximum sentence for the crime of Molestation of a Juvenile, where the molestation has recured during a period of more than one year, is forty (40) years with the Department of Corrections and a fine of up to ten thousand dollars.
ADA Prescott was later quoted as saying that “anyone can be a victim of sexual abuse at any age, and experts have taught us that the facts and circumstances surrounding that abuse often impact the ability or willingness of a victim to come forward and disclose their abuse. The youngest and most delicate members of society, our children, are often made to feel weak and incapable of divulging the abuses committed upon them. Whenever a child is brave enough to speak up, we must listen. I am so proud of the strength displayed by this young victim. She will surely rise above this abuse and become a future leader in our community.”
This case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorneys J. Philip Prescott Jr., and GeoffreyMichel of the 40th Judicial District Attorney’s Office. Hille was represented by private counsel, Elizabeth Carpenter.