ST. CLAIRSVILLE - Ryker Hill, 24, Martins Ferry, appeared before Common Pleas Court Judge John M. Solovan II Thursday to be sentenced on several child sex charges. He was sentenced on one count of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, a felony of the fourth degree; one count of gross sexual imposition, a felony of the third degree; and three counts of pandering obscenity involving a minor, a felony of the fourth degree. The victims were younger than 13 at the time.
He received a sentence of 18 months for the unlawful conduct charge and three years for the charge of sexual imposition; they will be served consecutively. He was sentenced to 12 months for each pandering charge, to be served concurrently with each other and the other sentences.
He will serve a total of four years, six months, with credit for 380 days served. He will be labeled a Tier 2 offender.
He had faced a maximum of 11 years. The state had asked for five years.
Hill confessed to the crimes last October when he applied for the Ohio State Police Academy. He broke down and made his initial confession during the polygraph test.
Attorney Steven Stickles represented Hill while Tom Hampton was special prosecutor for the state.
Prior to sentencing, Hill's parents took the stand to speak about his character, remorse and desire to take accountability for his crimes. His aunt and uncle, who he will live with upon release, confirmed this. His mother spoke of the weight of guilt he lives under and his regret at the distress his actions caused to his family. The Hills credited their religious background with holding their family together though this turmoil.
Also speaking was a representative of the Ridge Project, a faith-based non-profit program dedicated to helping people integrate into and out of the penal system and to keep families together during incarnation. The project is based out of McClure, Ohio.
Stickles asked Solovan to consider that Hill's confession was driven by remorse and the crimes would likely never have been found out otherwise.
"I have never had a client who I believe to be more genuinely remorseful than this young man," he said.
Hill said he did not regret his confession. He added that among his motivations was the fear of what long-term damage his victims might suffer.
"I hated myself for what I did," Hill said. "I couldn't live with it anymore."
He added that while he can never take back his actions, he desires to try to give back to the area and contribute to society.
Solovan noted the outpouring of support.
"The term, accountability, applies not only to you, but the message must be sent to others that they too will be held accountable," Solovan said. "I must also convey a message that such behavior will not be tolerated by our society."
Solovan added that judicial release remains a possibility.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.