MOUNT VERNON — Charges have been dismissed against a former Knox County sheriff's deputy who allegedly engaged in sexual activities with two female inmates.
In January 2019, a Knox County grand jury indicted Jason D. Hess on four counts of public indecency and two counts of sexual battery. The alleged incidents reportedly occurred between August 2015 and April 2018 while Hess was a deputy at the Knox County Jail.
The public indecency charges were third- and fourth-degree misdemeanors. The sexual battery charges were third-degree felonies. All of the charges were dismissed without prejudice on Feb. 1.
“We have had some issues with our witnesses in the case not staying in touch with us,” Knox County Prosecutor Chip McConville told Knox Pages on Friday. “There were misdemeanors and felonies involved.
"Right now I think we can prove the misdemeanors but not necessarily the felonies. It doesn't make sense for us to have a felony trial to prove some misdemeanors.”
The Knox County Sheriff's Office began investigating Hess in April 2018 after an inmate reported that he exposed himself to her and gave her his phone number. Hess resigned from the KCSO on April 30, 2018, following a disciplinary hearing that confirmed he gave the inmate his phone number. Doing so violated the jail's employee handbook.
The Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation conducted an independent investigation into the complaint and forwarded the results to McConville's office. The grand jury returned an indictment on Jan. 29, 2019.