An Ohio man who repeatedly raped his daughter over a long period of time was finally convicted after a decade on the run. He broke down in tears as soon as he heard his fate.
Frank Hertel repeatedly raped his daughter, Heather Orr, starting when the girl was just three years old. According to Heather’s claims, her father told her he was “teaching her” how to express love. That terrible “lesson” went on for 15 unimaginable years, spanning two states. Sadly, Heather was prevented from making allegations against her dad by the rest of her family, who would continue to protect the pedophile for another decade.
Following the years of abuse in both Ohio and Arizona, Hertel was eventually arrested and set to go to trial in Arizona when Heather was 18 years old. However, days before the trial, Hertel, Heather’s mother Judy, and Heather’s then-9-year-old brother fled to Germany, where the couple used fake identities and ran a bar and grill for a decade, according to the New York Daily News.
Raped by her father for 15 years and then abandoned by her family, Heather struggled to have a normal life. Although she married and eventually had children of her own, she found it difficult to trust men. She refused to allow her daughter’s father to bathe their infant daughter or change her diapers, The Columbus Dispatch reports. A decade after her family fled to avoid her father’s trial and after years of therapy, Heather was still determined to find the man and seek justice.
Wanting to also find her brother, Heather often tried to track them down, and she finally got a break while searching Google for her father’s name, according to People Magazine. Her search led to an article about her grandfather, who shares the same name, being arrested at a London airport and charged for $1.2 million in tax fraud. Heather contacted some of the people who commented on the article about the Hertel family, and eventually, she was able to learn about her family’s whereabouts in Germany.
“She sent a few emails, and replies flooded back,” according to The Dispatch. “Some of the commenters knew her dad. [Heather] Orr found a link to the bar and grill and contact information for its owners. Then, someone sent her a photograph of the restaurant. Her brother was standing out front.”
Heather was elated. “It was exhilarating,” she said. Thrilled, she passed on her newly found information to authorities. But, it would be another three years before her father was finally extradited back to the U.S. to face his crimes, where Heather would have to face her rapist in court.
First, Hertel faced the initial trial in Arizona, where he was sentenced to 20 years for child molestation. Next, the then-51-year-old rapist appeared in Ohio to answer for further charges. Pleading guilty to multiple counts of rape and gross sexual imposition, Hertel was sentenced by the Delaware County Common Pleas Court to between 19 and 95 years behind bars.
Hertel, who will likely spend the rest of his life in prison, bawled as he heard his sentence, telling the judge he felt sorry for what he did. “It’s not the life that I wanted my daughter to have,” said Hertel. “I wanted her life to be perfect.” This came after Hertel had interrupted Heather’s testimony with cries of “I’m so sorry Heather.” She wasn’t falling for it. She said the only thing her father was remorseful about was being caught and sent to prison. As she finished speaking, Hertel yelled, “I love you, Heather,” Daily Mail reported.
Instead of the perfect life that Hertel claims to have wanted for his daughter, Heather “fights every day to be happy” even after the 31-year-old finally got revenge on the father who “robbed me of feeling safe in this world,” she said. After bravely staring him down in court, Heather said, “I have lost my entire family.” She continued, “I often wonder if I hadn’t found him, what would have happened.”
As she continues to try to put the past behind her and move forward with her life, Heather plans to write a book about the ordeal, hoping to help others who have faced similar nightmares as hers. “I want to give a face and a name to women,” she said outside the courtroom. “I want them to stand up and say this is not right what is happening to children and women who are abused.”