FAIRMONT — A 72-year-old Fairmont man has been found guilty on 24 felony sex crimes following a jury trial, according to a news release from Jeffrey L. Freeman, Marion County Prosecuting Attorney.

Freeman announced that the trial team led by Assistant Prosecutor Robert J. Peters successfully obtained a guilty verdict on all 24 felony sex crimes in the case of State v. James Hess.

Freeman said the jury convicted Hess 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.

The four-day jury trial had multiple expert witnesses testifying for the State and defense, and Hess and the child victim both took the stand, according to Freeman.

Freeman stated the child was eight at the time of the offenses, which spanned several months.

Following conviction, Hess was incarcerated in North Central Regional Jail pending sentencing, which has been set for a later date, Freeman said. He expected sentencing to take place in about 60 days.

When asked for comment, Freeman said it was a good trial, and the jury returned a “sound, good verdict.”

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

According to the news release, Detective Douglas Smith of the Marion County Sheriff’s Department was the lead investigator, and Peters was assisted by Victim Advocate Kim Hawkins and Investigator Donald Harris.

The news release states that “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.”

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549.

Eric Hrin can be reached at 304-367-2549, or ehrin@timeswv.com.

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