Hill trial delayed on third occasion

The trial date for a former Olympic Medical Center emergency room physician charged with multiple counts of indecent liberties and one count of second-degree rape has been moved from January to June.

Josiah Hill, 40, of Port Angeles has pleased not guilty to all charges and is free on $200,000 bail.

This is the third time the trial has been rescheduled. The trial was initially set for April, but in February it was moved to June 5. Later it was reset to Jan. 22.

On Nov. 17, it was moved to June 24, with a status hearing on Feb. 2.

Hill’s defense attorney, Jared Ausserer, asked Judge Simon Barnhart of the Clallam County Superior Court for the reset because there had been a delay in a Pierce County trial in which he is involved.

“We’re recessed until Nov. 27, making it almost impossible to determine when it would end,” Ausserer said. He estimated the trial could extend into early January.

Michele Devlin, Clallam County chief criminal deputy prosecuting attorney, and Clallam County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Roberson agreed to the change. They said they had big trials coming in early 2024, which pushed the Hill date further into the year.

Ausserer and Devlin estimated the Hill trial would last four to five weeks.

“My client would like it resolved sooner,” Ausserer said. “But we’re OK with it.”

Barnhart asked Hill, who, like Ausserer, appeared in court via Zoom, if he had any objections to the new trial date.

“I understand that’s as soon as feasible,” Hill said.

Ausserer is representing Matthew Collins, one of three Tacoma police officers accused of first-degree manslaughter in the March 3, 2020, death of Manuel Ellis. Collins and a second defendant, Christopher Burbank, also face charges of second-degree murder.

Their trial began Oct. 3 and prosecutors with the state Attorney General’s Office rested their case on Nov. 8. The defense began its case Nov. 13.

At least six women have come forward alleging that Hill sexually assaulted them while they were in his care as an emergency department physician at Olympic Medical Center in Port Angeles.

Hill has been charged with five counts of indecent liberties by a healthcare provider and at least one count of second-degree rape.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges and is currently under home electronic monitoring with travel restrictions to a handful of counties in the state.

On April 3, Ausserer filed a motion to appoint defense investigation services at public expense because of Hill’s inability to financially retain a private defense investigator, according to court documents.

Barnhart granted the appointment of Linda Montgomery of Montgomery Investigations of Seattle for a budget of $10,000 total or $150 per hour.

A medical malpractice lawsuit was filed in June against Hill and others by one of the women who is an alleged victim in the criminal case.

The malpractice suit alleges that Josiah Hill, OMC and Peninsula Emergency Services Inc (former emergency room service provider PESI) were negligent in their care of the woman.

PESI, which had been formed only to provide emergency department services for OMC and which had done so for nearly 35 years, was dissolved after OMC announced it would not renew its contract with the group and instead opted for a contract with for-profit Sound Physicians of Tacoma.

OMC CEO Darryle Wolfe has said that pending litigation against a PESI doctor was the leading cause for the change.

PESI representatives said the group had cooperated fully with OMC and removed Hill from its schedule when allegations were brought to the group’s attention.