Kersey man withdraws guilty plea to sexual assault charges

At Monday's Return Day at the Elk County Courthouse in Ridgway, Jack Edward Hepler, 24, of Kersey, withdrew his previous plea of guilty to the charge of aggravated indecent assault, a second-degree felony. The incident is alleged to have occurred while Hepler babysat the victim, his first cousin, as her parents were out of town for the evening. In an interview with Trooper Matthew Higgins of the Ridgway-based state police on July 8, 2011, the alleged victim, with her parents present, related that on the night of the incident she was awoke in her bed with Hepler "on top of her." "She was naked and so was he. He covered her mouth and used his other hand to rub her body. She resisted and screamed but he kept her mouth shut and stayed on top of her," Trooper Higgins stated in his affidavit. The affidavit states that Hepler threatened the victim, saying that if she told anyone he would "come after her." At the time of the alleged incident, Hepler was 19 and the victim 10 years old. Pick up a copy of the Tuesday, March 6, 2012 edition of The Ridgway Record for more.