ELLINGTON, CT (WFSB) - New information is being released on the sex trafficking arrest of the vice president of Ellington’s Ambulance Corps.
Police say Simon Hessler attempted to purchase someone he believed to be a pre-teen girl for sex as part of an underground business that may have been going on for years.
There were red flags that had some parents calling police months before this arrest happened.
Parents were uneasy when they saw Facebook communication Hessler had with a homeless woman when he offered her this place to stay in exchange for work.
At the time, Hessler’s boss thought nothing of it, but parents we spoke with are now glad they told police.
Hessler is accused of sex trafficking children.
Police say this Vernon business on Talcottville Road, full of whips, chains, handcuffs and a cage, was his “sex dungeon.”
He was busted after allegedly attempting to purchase a pre-teen girl for sex at this Manchester hotel he owns.
Hessler is also a 10-year veteran of the Ellington Ambulance Corps.
Channel 3 spoke off camera with President Peter Hany, who says Hessler’s background check was clean and the only time red flags were raised was a year ago, when communication Hessler had with a homeless woman was brought to his attention.
Hany says Hessler and the woman discussed exchanging work for a place to stay at his Manchester hotel.
Hany told Channel 3 that Hessler was known to offer fire victims this same type of assistance, so he didn’t think anything of it and no official complaint was made to him.
But parents, who also saw screenshots of Hessler’s Facebook interaction, say he requested a full body shot of the woman and told her the type of work would be at her discretion.
Hany confirms several high schoolers made up a youth group at the ambulance corps, and Hessler, the vice president, was involved in administrative duties and took their ID photos.
Hany says the interactions were always with another adult present and were always professional.
The knowledge Hessler was around children was enough for at least one mother to bring her concerns to the first selectwoman, state police, and the school superintendent in February.
Channel 3 went to the Board of Selectmen on Friday who say they referred the complaint to state police, like they do in all cases.
It’s unclear if that tip prompted police to investigate Hessler, but court documents show state police started their undercover investigation that month.
Documents show Hessler allegedly asked the undercover officer for photos of pre-teen children in various stages of undress and went to elaborate steps to ensure the delivery of the person he believed to be in 6th grade.
Right now, Hessler is being held on a $1 million bond.
We reached out to his family, who had no comment.
Hany says Hessler, who made roughly $900 annually with the ambulance corps is suspended and will likely be terminated Friday night at a closed door hearing.