The combined trial of two West Cornwall Township residents accused of sexually assaulting a 7-year-old girl who was in their care has been set for the week of June 20 in Lebanon County court.

Edward Lee Williams, 55, and Ariel Hiestand, 33, were arrested in January and charged with multiple felonies based on allegations that Williams repeatedly sexually assaulted a 7-year-old girl and recorded the encounters on video.

Hiestand is alleged to have acted as Williams’ accomplice in the assaults on the child.

Williams is charged with rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child, unlawful contact with a minor – sexual offenses, and aggravated indecent assault of a person less than 13 years old. All charges are felonies.

Hiestand is charged with rape of a child, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, aggravated indecent assault of a child, endangering the welfare of a child, and production, possession, and dissemination of child pornography. All charges are felonies.

Both have pleaded not guilty. Each faces decades in prison if convicted on all charges.

According to Lebanon County District Attorney Pier Hess Graf, Hiestand was Williams’ girlfriend and “is the biological mother of the victim and other children in the residence.”

According to a person familiar with the case, the children are in the custody of relatives.

Court records at publication time indicated that Williams remained in the Lebanon County Correctional Facility, unable to post $500,000 bail. In April, President Judge John C. Tylwalk denied Williams’ request for a bail reduction.

Hiestand was released from prison on Jan. 20 after posting $100,000 bail through a bondsman.

The next court appearances for Williams and Hiestand will be at Call of the List on June 4, where each will tell a judge if they still intend to go to trial later in June or want a trial postponement.

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Chris Coyle writes primarily on government, the courts, and business. He retired as an attorney at the end of 2018, after concentrating for nearly four decades on civil and criminal litigation and trials. A career highlight was successfully defending a retired Pennsylvania state trooper who was accused,...


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