By DEANNE JOHNSON
LISBON - A Lisbon man sentenced in November to a year in prison for gross sexual imposition was released Monday following a hearing in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.
Bobby Joe Hill, 47, Grant Street, Lisbon, is reportedly having health issues in prison and has completed an Alcohol Anonymous program. His defense attorney, James Hartford, noted Hill had only agreed to offer the Alford plea last year to save the young alleged victim from having to testify. An Alford plea is not an admission of guilt but an acknowledgment by the criminal defendant there is sufficient evidence for the prosecution to obtain a conviction.
The crimes Hill was charged with allegedly occurred on July 22, 2010 at his home. The 13-year-old alleged victim and her mother were living there at the time when Hill reportedly went to the girl's bedroom about 4:30 a.m. and began to perform sex acts on her as she slept. The girl woke up and fled to her grandmother's house after distracting Hill.
Hill was originally charged with three counts of rape and three counts of unlawful sexual conduct with a minor, all based on the same crime, which carried a maximum possible combined prison sentence of 45 years to life.
Assistant Prosecutor Timothy McNicol said he notified both the girl and her mother about Monday's hearing, but they did not attend.
Before agreeing to release Hill, Judge C. Ashley Pike said he remembered the case as having some evidentiary issues or credibility issues. He asked Hill if he could abide by regular supervised probation, to which Hill responded, "You'll never see me again."
He will remain as a registered sexual offender and was ordered to have no contact with the alleged victim in the case.
Hill is the brother of Clifford Hill Jr., who is the husband of Tracy Hill, the Rogers woman who disappeared in June 2001 and has not been seen since. Clifford Hill received a 23-year prison sentence in 2009 for shooting an Ashland County man during a home invasion crime.