A Maryland minister's child molestation conviction has been overturned by the state's Court of Appeals, which ruled that police improperly induced him into a confession. Enoch Jermaine Hill wrote a letter of apology to his alleged young victim, which was later used against him in court. Hill was convicted of sexual abuse of a minor, second-degree sexual offense and unnatural or perverted sexual practice. Hill appealed after being sentenced to five years in prison.

The Maryland Court of Appeals ruled last week that the letter and statements made during the half-hour interview when the letter was obtained cannot be used in the case because the detective told Hill the family did not want to go to trial.

Hill "had an objectively reasonable belief, based on the detective's statement, that by making an inculpatory statement that included an apology to the victim's family he might avoid criminal charges or, at the least, lessen the likelihood of a successful criminal prosecution," Justice Mary Ellen Barbera wrote in the majority opinion.

According to court records, Hill, an ordained minister, met the boy when he was 8 or 9 years old through the church's youth department. After growing close in the summer of 2004, Hill would sometimes stay with the boy's family in their Anne Arundel home.

Two years later, the boy told his mother he had been sexually abused and the investigation began, the records show.

Anne Arundel Detective Patrick McLaughlin spoke with the boy about the alleged abuse. McLaughlin advised the boy to call Hill and record the call.

When the boy asked for an apology, Hill responded "... I don't wanna go into all that right now. I just wanna let God do his work. God is, is just doing great things now."

Hill was called in for questioning and told about the tape.

McLaughlin told Hill "[the boy] and his mother did not want to see him get into trouble, but they wanted an apology."

Court documents indicate Hill then said he masturbated the child on six occasions. McLaughlin then suggested he write an apology note.

Hill testified that he wrote the letter because he thought it "would just end the nightmare and what [he] was going through."

It would now be up to the state to decide whether to retry Hill in the case.