Woman pleads not guilty to child molesting charges

Tina Hillsman

WOODSTOCK — A New Market woman pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court to eight sex offenses, including rape, that she is accused of committing against a child.

The other charges against Tina Hillsman, 35, of 2251 Old Valley Pike include aggravated sexual battery, indecent liberties with a child; cruelty or injury to a child; child abuse with disregard for life; and penetrating the victim with an object.

Circuit Judge Dennis L. Hupp scheduled a trial for 9 a.m. Sept. 23. The trial is tentatively scheduled to be heard by a jury. Hillsman waived her right to a jury trial, which would have left Hupp to decide the outcome of the case. But Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Louis Campola refused to agree to Hillsman’s waiver.

Hillsman, wearing a jail uniform, appeared in court with her attorney, Michael Araj of Harrisonburg. She entered her pleas after Araj scrapped a motion to suppress evidence against her partway through the hearing.

Araj challenged audiotaped statements Hillsman made to Investigator George Poe of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office during an interview conducted with Hillsman at a motel room in New Market where she was living at the time.

Araj said the statements were given involuntarily and asked Hupp to listen to the tapes in private outside the courtroom. Araj, noting the presence of reporters in the courtroom, said playing the tapes publicly would taint a potential jury pool. Hupp rejected the motion.

Poe testified that he, accompanied by another investigator from the Sheriff’s Office, spoke to Hillsman on Sept. 17, several years after she allegedly committed the offenses.

“She was advised three minutes into the interview that I was not there to arrest her that day,” Poe said.

Poe testified that the alleged victim had been in counseling for several years, a period during which the child told of improper sexual conduct committed by Hillsman at the age of 8 years old.

A few minutes later, Araj asked Hupp to allow him to withdraw his challenge to the audiotape of Poe’s interview with Hillsman.

The indictments against Hillsman state she committed the offenses during a period from March 2010 to May 2011.

Bobby Lee Good, a co-defendant in the case, is facing a list of charges similar to Hillsman’s. Good, 49, of 115 Burkholder Lane, New Market, is scheduled for a jury trial Aug. 18.

Both defendants had a charge of taking indecent liberties with a child dropped in June 2011.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com