Man who set up 'sex dungeon' for girls gets 29-year sentence

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) — A Connecticut man who federal and state authorities say sexually abused a girl under 12 years old and sought another underage victim for “slave training” in his “sex dungeon” was sentenced Thursday to nearly 29 years in prison.

Simon Hessler, 48, formerly of Ellington, agreed to a plea deal that resolved state and federal charges and was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Stefan Underhill in Bridgeport. He pleaded guilty in December to sexual assault, child pornography and several other crimes.

Investigators said Hessler, who owned a Manchester hotel, created the “sex dungeon” in his Vernon office, where they found a USB drive that contained thousands of child pornography images. They said they also discovered that he had sexually abused a girl under 12 and used a cell phone to produce images of the abuse.

Prosecutors said Hessler also agreed to pay another man, whom he didn't know was an undercover state police detective, $500 to produce a 12-year-old girl for two days of “slave training” and “limitless sex" — a plot that wasn't carried out and resulted in his arrest in November 2018.

In a letter to the judge, Hessler blamed his crimes on his abuse of prescription drugs. He also said he was raped when he was 13 and grew up with psychiatric and physical ailments, the Journal Inquirer reported.

“As I began to read my presentence report, I became disgusted,” he wrote. “I hated the person described therein — that person is a monster. That person was me. It is hard to write, hard to admit.”

Hessler is expected to be sentenced in state court next week to a 30-year prison sentence, which will run concurrently with the federal sentence.