KEYSER, W. Va. — A co-owner of the Smoke Hole Resort near Petersburg has been ordered to register as a sex offender as he awaits sentencing on conviction of two felony charges of first-degree sexual abuse.

Jerry Lee Hedrick, 60, is scheduled for sentencing Oct. 21 at the Mineral County Courthouse by Judge Phil Jordan.

Hedrick faces a possible sentence of three to 10 years in prison and a fine of $20,000 as a result of the conviction following a jury trial May 27 and 28 in Mineral County Circuit Court. The verdict was returned after a jury of nine women and three men deliberated for an hour and five minutes, according to court documents.

Attorney James B. Lee of Charleston and Elkins attorney Stephen Jory represented Hedrick. The case was prosecuted by Grant County Prosecuting Attorney Dennis DiBendetto, who presented testimony from the victim, her mother and West Virginia State Trooper S. McDurrah, who conducted the investigation.

Court records show the defense presented no witnesses and focused on a delay from July to December from the time the victim first reported the incident to police until a formal written statement was taken.

The victim in the case is a single mother in her 20s who had been employed as a housekeeper at the Smoke Hole Resort.

According to court records, statements to police and the victim's trial testimony, she had worked at the resort for less than a week when, in July 2007, Hedrick tried to force himself on her, grabbing her breast and buttocks in the process.

The victim immediately left the hotel, and never returned, giving up a job that she testified she enjoyed and needed.

Hedrick was charged by warrant and posted $30,000 bond before Grant County Magistrate Larry Ours. The bond has continued. Hedrick was indicted by the Grant County grand jury on July 8, 2008.

Following a number of pretrial hearings, Jory moved on Oct. 8, 2008, for a change of venue, stating that he felt that the reputation of his client, Hedrick, may prevent him from getting a fair trial in Grant County.

Jordan approved a questionnaire on that subject to prospective jurors and set a trial in Petersburg for Jan. 26, 2009. After reviewing the responses of 75 prospective Grant County jurors on that day, Jordan found there was too much animosity toward Hedrick in Grant County and then granted a change of venue to move the trial to Mineral County.

On July 15, Jordan denied Hedrick’s defense counsel motion for a new trial.

On Wednesday, Hedrick appeared in court in a presentence hearing where Jordan ordered Hedrick to register as a sex offender within three days. The judge also ordered him to be tested for the HIV virus according to a mandatory statute for anyone convicted of sex crimes.

According to court documents, Hedrick admitted during the hearing to information filed by DiBenedetto stating Hedrick had a previous felony conviction in 2005 in federal court in Elkins for illegally transporting two mountain lions from Colorado to West Virginia. The repeat offender status adds a year to the sentencing on the first count of first-degree sexual offense.

The presentencing investigation is being conducted by 21st Judicial Circuit Probation Officer Lawrence Wade and is expected to be completed by Sept. 18.

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