Faced with jail time, Hoeck withdraws plea

October 08, 2004|TODD KLEFFMAN

A former children's advocate and foster parent accused of child sexual abuse has withdrawn his guilty plea after the judge in the case imposed jail time as part of his plea agreement.

Stephen Hoeck entered an Alford guilty plea in August to a misdemeanor charge of third-degree criminal abuse, but withdrew that plea Tuesday during a final sentencing hearing when Boyle Circuit Judge Darren Peckler required that he serve 60 days in jail.

Under the original plea agreement, Hoeck would have been sentenced to 12 months in jail, but that time was to have been probated for two years, meaning that he would not have had to spend any time in jail unless he violated the terms of his probation. He entered an Alford plea, allowing him to maintain his innocence while acknowledging that there might be enough evidence against him for a jury to find him guilty of the charges.


Hoeck, 27, of 9231 Perryville Road, is the former president of the Boyle/Mercer Task Force on Child Abuse and former president of the local chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates, an organization that helps children involved in the court system. He was indicted in June 2003 on two counts of first-degree sexual abuse involving a male child who was in his custody as a foster parent and first-degree criminal abuse involving a younger male child in his care.

Those felony charges were plea-bargained down to a single misdemeanor count of third-degree criminal abuse because the older child involved in the sexual abuse charges has since turned 18 and could not be located to testify, Commonwealth's Attorney Richard Bottoms said in August. Bottoms also said he wanted to avoid a trial on the criminal abuse charge involving the younger child because the ordeal might be damaging to the child.

A status hearing on the case is scheduled for Nov. 1.

"We're kind of back to square one," Bottoms said Thursday. "It might still be worked out or it might get set for trial."

Hoeck's attorney, Ephraim Helton, could not be reached for comment today.

Helton said earlier that his client was happy with the agreement and "now we just hope and pray the judge accepts it."

Peckler said in August, however, that he wanted to see impact statements from the victims in the case and check on Hoeck's criminal record, among other things, before deciding to accept the plea.

Central Kentucky News Articles