Sunday, July 21, 2024

A Former CAL FIRE and Fort Bragg Firefighter Will Serve Three Years in State Prison for Sexual Violence

William Larry Hill [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office]

William Larry Hill, known to some as ‘Willy’, was charged with a litany of sexually violent crimes in May 2021. Over a year later, Hill accepted a plea deal yesterday, December 15, 2022, in the chambers of Mendocino County Superior Court Judge Keith Faulder. He pled guilty to felony attempted sexual penetration with a foreign object and assault with intent to commit rape.

As a result of the plea deal, Hill will serve up to three years in state prison and will register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. 

A criminal complaint filed by Mendocino County District Attorney David Eyster on May 17, 2021, charged Hill with felony sexual penetration with a foreign object and sexual battery. The crimes were said to be connected together in their commission. The document discloses the identity of Hill’s victim. So as not to re-traumatize her, we will not identify her name.

Hill’s history with the Fort Bragg Fire Department is confirmed in an article published by the Fort Bragg Advocate on January 12, 2019, entitled “Fire Claims Chapel by the Sea” documents the devastating fire that destroyed the Mendocino Coast’s only funeral home. Hill is described in the article as a “former Fort Bragg firefighter” and was one of the first on the scene the day the Chapel burned down.

In a character witness letter written to the court, a friend of Hill’s indicated they had met in 2000 when they were both new firefighters for CAL FIRE. 

The letters written by friends of Hill also described him working odd jobs such as working on a “party boat,” “clearing brush,”and a “first responder with PG&E.”

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Superior Court documentation shows Hill initially pled not guilty on June 29, 2021, at his arraignment and was ordered to stay 100 yards away from the woman he stood accused of victimizing. Hill made bail of $20,000, was released from custody and awaited the legal proceedings.

Twenty days after making bail, Fort Bragg Police Officers served a search warrant at his residence on the 600 block of North Harrison Street. He was found to be in possession of four firearms despite signing a firearms statement on June 29 that he did not “own or have in my possession a gun, firearm, or ammunition.” 

Mugshot of William Hill from his July 2021 arrest

A press release about his arrest said, “Due to Hill currently being out on bail from a previous investigation, and the nature of the ongoing felony investigation related to the above search warrant, the Fort Bragg Police Department requested and was granted a bail enhancement of $100,000.”

After his July arrest, Hill was behind bars for approximately four months as his case continued through the court. A bail payment document indicates he was released on October 19, 2021, after making bail, now set at $50,000.

Two days later, Hill’s defense attorney filed a peremptory challenge against Judge Clay Brennan which was granted, resulting in Judge Faulder taking over the case. The District Attorney sparred back filing a peremptory challenge against Judge Faulder, which was denied. 

Over the following months, the prosecution and defense went back and forth seemingly leading toward a jury trial. However, on September 8, 2022, Hill instead took a plea offered by the District Attorney.

He pled guilty to a felony attempted sexual penetration to a foreign object and assault with intent to rape resulting in a three-year sentence. 

The court has ordered Hill to pay an undetermined amount of money to a Victim Restitution Fund and register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. He cannot own a firearm for the rest of his life and faces enhanced sentencing if convicted of any future felonies.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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