A former Delaware man will serve a minimum of 19 years – up to 95 years – for the crimes he committed against his daughter 20 years ago.
Frank Hertel Sr., 51, pleaded guilty Monday to three counts of rape and two counts of gross sexual imposition. He was indicted in 2000 for raping his daughter multiple times in between 1993 and 1995, but fled the country. Tuesday, he was sentenced to 5 to 25 years for each count of rape and 2 to 10 years for each count of gross sexual imposition, served consecutively but with the possibility of parole. Hertel will be able to serve his term beginning Tuesday concurrently with a 20-year term he is serving in Arizona for the rape of his daughter while the family lived there.
Though unusual, Judge Everett Krueger allowed daughter Heather Orr to give her victim impact statement last and the defendant to speak first. Prosecutor Carol O’Brien asked for the change to allow Orr to finally “have the last word.” (The Gazette does not identify sex crime victims unless they voluntarily identify themselves to the media, which Orr has done previously.)
“I’m truly, truly sorry,” Hertel said. “This is not the life I wanted for my daughter to have. I wanted her life to be perfect.”
As he finished his statement, he spoke to Judge Everett Krueger directly.
“I wish you could do something to make it all go away, but I know you can’t,” he said. “Do the best you can, judge. That’s all I ask.”
O’Brien said the case “exemplifies the worst of the worst. This man groomed his daughter from a young age to expect this.”
She said Orr was repeatedly let down by authorities each time she reported her father – from eighth grade to when she located her fugitive father in Germany and reported him to a federal marshal. She asked the judge not to let Orr down again.
Although many rape victims choose to remain anonymous, Orr said she has come public and remained public to give a voice to victims.
“I’ve been denied this right (to speak) for a very long time,” she said. “He is a danger to society. And to me and my family, he is more of a danger.”
She described the “scars” left by the rape by her father.
“I wish a stranger had done this to me,” she said. “I love my dad because he’s my dad, but this hurt me more than anyone could imagine.”
According to O’Brien, recent phone calls from Hertel to family members from jail revealed he planed to appeal both the Arizona ruling and this sentence.
Orr said if her father appeals, “today’s not going to be closure. This is not going to be over.”
As Orr finished speaking, Hertel yelled, “I love you, Heather.”
Orr told the media after Hertel was remanded that despite his outburst, she still got the last word.
Hertel was arraigned on the rape and gross sexual imposition charges on March 18, 2013. He initially pleaded not guilty to the charges, but changed his plea to guilty Nov. 4 under a plea deal that allowed him to choose whether he would be sentenced under old laws or current laws governing penalties for rape.
When attorneys noted a miscommunication in the original plea deal, Hertel changed his plea to not guilty at his sentencing Dec. 13.
He again changed his plea to guilty under the original charges Monday and said he had never intended to change his plea to not guilty; he entered the plea of not guilty Dec. 13 due to the miscommunication in the plea deal.
“I’m doing this of my own free will,” Hertel said Monday, “so that my daughter will have closure of all of this and I will take whatever judgement you pronounce on me without reservation. Everything was explained adequate this time. It’s a shame there was a misunderstanding last time or it would have gone forth.”
The pattern of rape began when his family lived in Delaware County. Hertel was indicted on charges Nov. 17, 2000, and then on similar charges in Arizona. He evaded police and fled to Germany with his wife and son while on trial in 2001 in Arizona. The Arizona trial continued without him and he was found guilty on charges, despite his whereabouts being unknown at that time.
Orr began searching for Hertel and said every so often she would run his name through Google. She said one day it returned a news story about Hertel’s father committing fraud in Canada. From the comments on the news story, she was able to track down people who knew the location of Hertel. She said her first attempts to report him to the Federal Marshall were ignored.
In 2012, Hertel was arrested by German police and extradited to Arizona as a fugitive. He is now serving a 20-year prison sentence at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence, Ariz.
After the change of plea in December, Hertel was indicted on three charges of rape with a force specification and two counts of sexual imposition under current laws on Jan. 17. The force specification would have created the possibility of a lifetime sentence. He was arraigned on those charges on Jan. 24, but pleaded not guilty. His new trial was set to begin Tuesday; that case was dismissed.
Hertel was also ordered to pay $2,359.80 in court fees and prosecution costs. He has the right to appeal both the sentence and conviction.