KINGWOOD — The State Supreme Court has turned down former chiropractor Stephen Herto’s motion to overturn a local court decision regarding his request for resentencing.
Herto, 51, was indicted by a special Preston County grand jury in November 2013 on 13 counts: two of sexual abuse by a parent, custodian or person in a position of trust; one count of using obscene matter with intent to seduce a minor; and 10 counts of soliciting a minor via computer.
At trial in January 2015, he was convicted of all the charges except one count of sexual abuse by a parent, custodian or person in a position of trust.
He was sentenced to four to 20 years in prison, with five years probation after release and 10 years extended supervision. Herto, acting as his own attorney, appealed the conviction, which was upheld by the State Supreme Court then.
But in October 2016, Herto filed a motion for reduction of sentence, and Judge Robert Stone agreed to make the sentences concurrent, making him eligible to apply for parole this year.
He is still incarcerated. The State Division of Corrections website indicates his projected release date is December 2019.
In May, Herto filed a motion to resentence for purpose of appeal, arguing that he hadn’t knowingly waived his right to counsel when he filed the original appeal and wasn’t told of the “dangers and disadvantages” of proceeding without an attorney.
The circuit court denied the motion, and the State Supreme Court agreed with that action in its ruling last week.
The 2015 verdict was the former doctor’s second conviction on similar charges. In 2012, Herto pleaded to an information charging him with sending emails to a 16-year-old patient, soliciting oral sex, and was sentenced to two to 10 years.
But his attorney later filed a motion to disqualify then-Preston Circuit Judge Lawrance Miller Jr., citing a “fiduciary relationship” between Herto and the judge’s wife, Susan Miller, and daughter, Jessica Lipscomb, of Houses and More Real Estate.
As previously reported, the motion said the women
communicated with Herto about a property he was attempting to buy. Judge Miller asked the State Supreme Court to be recused from the case and Senior Status Judge Larry Starcher heard the motion. Starcher ruled in favor of the motion.
Starcher also set aside Herto’s plea, sentencing and commitment. It was at that time Preston Prosecuting Attorney Melvin C. Snyder III convened the special grand jury.
But the courts have not always gone against Herto. In 1997, a jury found him not guilty of 16 counts of first-degree sexual abuse, related to allegedly phony breast exams he performed on women, some minors.