On December 7, a jury convicted James Hess, 70, of Fairmont on 12 counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, and 12 counts of sexual abuse by parent, guardian, custodian, or person in a position of trust, according to the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office. 

In May 2017, Hess was accused of playing the “tickle game,” which consisted of inappropriate touching, with an 8-year-old, according to the Marion County Sheriff’s Department. 

The jury trial featured multiple expert witnesses testifying. Both the defendant and the child victim took the stand. 

Following conviction, Hess was incarcerated pending sentencing which has been set for a later date, said Jeffrey Freeman, Marion County Prosecuting Attorney. 

“Justice is done,” said Peters. “A brave little girl walked into a courtroom full of strangers and a perpetrator, and told the compelling, indisputable truth.” 

Peters added, “the conviction of James Hess was the culmination of extensive work by the trial team, and is a reflection of the Office’s dedication to seeking justice for perpetrators of abuse, advocating for crime victims, and protecting the children of Marion County.”