PAXTON – A Ford County jury on Friday found a Gibson City minister guilty of repeated sexual assaults on a woman over a six-year period that began when she was 14 years old.
Following three hours of deliberations, Danny O. Hill, 54, who listed an address in the 800 block of South Lott Boulevard, was found guilty of two counts of criminal sexual assault.
Hill is a Baptist minister who has served at churches in Gibson City and Fisher.
He also has worked as a substitute teacher at Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley High School and as a chaplain for Carle Hospice in Champaign-Urbana.
Hill faces between four and 15 years in prison and fines up to $25,000 on both counts. He will be sentenced Sept. 26.
The victim, now 22, had testified on Thursday that Hill sexually abused her hundreds of times for six years.
When Hill took the stand in his own defense on Friday, he denied taking part in any sexual activities with the woman.
Hill claimed the woman was reliving in her own mind sexual assaults from her childhood when she lived in another state.
As part of the woman's therapy, Hill said, he would frequently take part in role playing with the woman, portraying her abuser.
"I would become the person who inflicted harm on her," he said. "I would ask her, if I were that man, what would she say."
Hill said that he believes the woman was referring to those role plays during four wiretapped telephone conversations that were played for the jury on Thursday.
At the jury's request, Circuit Judge Steve Pacey on Friday afternoon replayed the tape recordings of the conversations between Hill and the woman.
Hill said that the woman suffered from brain damage when she was involved in an automobile collision in 2004.
"She had difficulty remembering just about anything," Hill said. "She still has big lapses in her memory."
Jurors also heard from Christina Meece of Gibson City, who testified that the woman turned down an offer to take part in a sexual abuse seminar with her in 2002.
Hill's former physician, Dr. David Hagan of Gibson City, said he found no signs of sexual abuse during his examinations of the woman. But Hagan added that there often are no physical signs of sexual abuse.
Bethany Rapp of Gibson City, a friend of the woman, said that Hill's wife, Mary Lou Hill, had been suspicious that something was going on between her husband and the woman. But Rapp said the woman denied any inappropriate activity had taken place.