Photo: Contributed Photo / Aleksandar Radovanov Via Fotolia
ELLINGTON — An Ellington man who authorities say sexually assaulted a young girl and was seeking another minor for his “sex dungeon” was sentenced Friday to nearly 29 years in federal prison.
Simon Hessler, 49, formerly of Ellington, was sentenced to 347 months — 28 years and 11 months — in federal prison, followed by 10 years of supervised release, on child exploitation offenses, according to a news release from US. Attorney for Connecticut John Durham.
In October 2018, Hessler was identified by a Connecticut State Police detective as a person possibly linked to sex trafficking minors, the news release said. Hessler started talking with the detective, who was undercover.
Authorities said Hessler told the undercover detective that he had a “sex dungeon” on the top floor of his office building, full of things like cages, stocks, handcuffs and whips. Hessler offered to pay the detective $500 for two days of “slave training” and “limitless sex” with a 12-year-old described as a “DCF child,” the news release said.
Once the detective agreed, Hessler required the child be left in a trailer near a hotel he ran in Manchester, and told the undercover detective to send him a picture of the child “gagged, blindfolded and handcuffed” before he would give him the location of the cash payment, authorities said.
When the undercover detective sent Hessler a photo of what appeared to be a child bound on the floor of a trailer, authorities said, Hessler told the detective where to find the money, Durham said. On Nov. 13, 2018, Hessler was arrested after he got out of his car and walked toward the trailer.
After his arrest, investigators found a USB drive in a safe in Hessler’s “sex dungeon” in Vernon, according to officials. The drive had thousands of photos and videos of child pornography and child erotica, including what investigators said was about 60 images of a specific girl who was younger than 12, Durham said.
Authorities said the investigation revealed that between July 2016 and November 2018, Hessler sexually abused the girl, and used a cellphone to produce images of the abuse.
Hessler has been detained in state custody since his arrest. He pleaded guilty in federal court to production of child pornography on Dec. 11, 2019.
He was also charged in the Hartford and Tolland judicial districts with related state offenses.
On Dec. 17, 2019, Hessler pleaded guilty to several state offenses, including two counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, two counts of risk of injury and multiple counts linked to his attempt to commit commercial sex abuse of a minor under the age of 13, unlawful restraint and attempt to commit intentional cruelty.
Hessler is expected to be sentenced to 30 years in jail on the state offenses, according to the federal authorities. The judge ordered Hessler’s federal sentence to run concurrently with his state sentence.