On Friday, September 5, retired Flint Police Sgt. Lawrence Woods was arraigned on 16 counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Since that time, two more individuals have come forward with similar allegations, according to a news article at Mlive.com. As of yesterday, Flint Police were interviewing the alleged victims, according to Sgt. Karl Petrich. police-on-the-scene-1172422-m

The 16 counts Woods was arraigned on last week pertain to two alleged victims who were minors at the time they were assaulted during a time period beginning in 1996 and ending in 1999. Woods’ attorney, Frank Manley, said that in cases that are old such as this one and also high profile, there are questions to be answered. Considering the allegations are concerning something that allegedly happened beginning 18 years ago, it becomes suspect.

Petrich said that investigators found substantial evidence in a raid of the homes Woods had stayed at or lived in, including hundreds of photographs depicting child pornography which were not downloaded from the Internet. Petrich maintains that the photographs of victims were taken at a local hotel room and Woods’ apartment. He also said that it was believed Woods sexually assaulted the victims while he was on duty, using his position of authority over the children.

To date, four alleged victims have come forward, but Petrich believes there may be many more. First-degree criminal sexual conduct involving children results in a sentence of 25 years to life in prison for those convicted.

As all Michigan sex crime attorneys are aware, old cases such as this one truly are suspect. Why do victims wait for nearly 20 years to come forward? After this many years, gathering concrete evidence is nearly impossible. In some situations, people may fabricate stories in an effort to get publicity, or even money from the alleged offender. We will see how this plays out in the coming weeks and months.

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In late July, a 38-year-old Kent City man was charged with first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct after he allegedly sexually assaulted a 9-year-old girl, according to a news article at Mlive.com. David Harold Fricke waived his probable cause hearing last week, and remains jailed on a $10,000 bond. juliet-433479-m

According to the news report, Fricke had sexual contact with the alleged victim in November of last year at a home located north of 21 Mile Road NW. According to Fricke, the young girl initiated the sexual contact. He maintains that as he was taking a shower, the girl approached him, and that he asked her to leave. In addition, according to the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, Fricke claimed to have found the girl in his bed at some point after showering.

If convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Fricke will spend a minimum of 25 years in prison. The maximum prison term for first-degree CSC is life.

Regardless of whether the 9-year-old girl actually initiated sexual contact with Fricke, having sexual relations with a minor is illegal. In Michigan, sexual contact involving penetration with a person who is younger than 13 is considered first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the most serious of all sex crimes in the state. It is critical that anyone accused of this serious criminal offense consult with a skilled and aggressive Michigan sex crime lawyer immediately.

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On Monday, September 1, a female student at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield was allegedly sexually assaulted after a man broke into her home on Berkeley Road, according to news reports at the Connecticut Post. get-in-6195-m

The woman, who lives with several roommates who were not home at the time of the incident, described the man who she says attacked her as short and stocky, 5 feet 6 inches tall or shorter, with dark, spiked hair. She said that he had a Spanish accent, and she believed him to be in his 20’s. The victim required treatment at an area hospital for physical injuries she suffered during the sexual assault.

The alleged victim told police that she did not see or hear a vehicle leave her home when her attacker fled. Law enforcement is requesting the public’s help in identifying the suspect, and have released a sketch artist’s rendition of what he may look like.

In the state of Michigan, sexual assault, often referred to as rape, includes any sexual contact that is not consented to by a victim, whether the assault involves penetration or other forced sexual contact such as touching private areas including the breasts, buttocks, groin, or genital area. Sexual assault is generally charged as criminal sexual conduct in the state, and there are four degrees ranging from the most serious, first-degree criminal sexual conduct, to the least serious, fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

While the news article does not specifically say that the female student was raped, we will assume she was for the purpose of this article. In Michigan, first-degree criminal sexual conduct involves forced penetration, and will leave the accused facing a maximum term of life in prison if found guilty. This is the same sentence often given to people who are convicted of murder in Michigan.

As you can see, the criminal penalties for sexual assault in the state are extremely harsh. In situations where an individual pleads guilty or no contest to a charge of sexual assault that does not involve penetration, he or she may be sentenced to a couple of years in prison. While this seems far less serious, the most unsettling aspect of being found guilty for most people is being labeled a sex offender and having to register with Michigan’s sex offender registry.

Regardless of how serious the crime is you have been accused of, speak with an experienced Michigan sex crimes attorney immediately. You must have legal guidance and support to reach the best possible outcome in your case.

On Thursday, August 28, 33-year-old Cruz Bonilla of Hillsboro, Oregon was arrested for the alleged sexual assault of a 39-year-old Beaverton woman. According to a news article at the Beaverton Valley Times, a note left on the victim’s door by the suspect led to his arrest. traditional-house-1436065-m

Bonilla allegedly sexually assaulted the victim on August 15 after entering her apartment through a door that was left unlocked. The victim claims that Bonilla came in about 1:30 a.m., and that she struggled with him before he finally fled her apartment. Bonilla left a note on the woman’s apartment door 10 days later which according to police gave them enough information to identify the suspect, who it was determined was unknown to the victim. The victim reported to police that she was sexually assaulted, and that she fought Bonilla during the assault.

Officers who responded to the scene at approximately 2 a.m. were not able to locate the suspect, however they did find and arrest him at a later date. Bonilla is accused of first-degree burglary, first-degree sodomy, and first-degree sex abuse. At last report, he was lodged in the Washington County Jail. News reports do not indicate what was in the note that led to Bonilla’s arrest, only that it was an apology note.

In the state of Michigan, individuals who are accused of sex crimes including rape, sodomy, child pornography or molestation, or accosting a minor for sex are prosecuted vigorously. Having an aggressive and capable Michigan sex crimes attorney on your side is imperative if you want any hope at all of avoiding life-changing criminal penalties. Depending on the crime you are accused of committing, you may face up to life in prison, substantial fines, and be required to register as a sex offender, sometimes for life.

Rape, or first-degree criminal sexual conduct (sex offenses involving penetration) will leave the accused facing a possible sentence of life behind bars. Even when a person pleads guilty or no contest to a less serious offense, he or she may spend time in prison. For those who do not spend a substantial amount of time behind bars, being labeled a sex offender is usually the worst punishment of all. You are shunned by society, and often cannot work or live where you choose.

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Approximately three weeks ago, an 18-year-old male hiker was walking at the Highbanks Metro Park in Lewis Center, OH when he was sexually assaulted by an unknown male. The victim claimed that as he was walking, the suspect attempted to encourage him to walk off the trail north of an overlook deck area that was approximately 75 feet away. When the victim became fearful, he began moving away from the suspect, who then pushed him to the ground and assaulted him, according to NBC4.boise-foothills-4-1336499-m

Kevin Savage, Captain at the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, told reporters that the park was fairly crowded at the time the assault occurred, which was around 4:30 in the afternoon.

The victim told authorities that the suspect is of Indian descent, had a slight accent, and was wearing black running shorts and a white t-shirt with black vertical stripes. He also described the man as having salt-and-pepper hair, a goatee, and nearly six feet tall, thought to be middle-aged. A composite sketch of the suspect was released shortly after the attack for help with possible identification by the public.

Today, many public parks meant for enjoyment are becoming dangerous. Parks with wooded areas give predators opportunities to sexually assault hikers, runners, and those who are simply enjoying nature. However, there are also occasions on which alleged victims wrongly accuse others of sexual assault. Determining whether someone is innocent or guilty of a sex crime can be a very difficult and involved process.

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On Friday, August 22, it was announced on CNN that 27-year-old Daniel Holtzclaw, an Oklahoma City police officer, had been charged with several sex offenses after a woman came forward with her story of Holtzclaw’s “sexual impropriety” during a traffic stop. breaklight-1160608-m

Captain Dexter Nelson of the Oklahoma City police gave CNN the story, which began when the first alleged victim’s complaint led to authorities investigating all of the traffic stops Holtzclaw made in an attempt to determine if there may be other victims. On Thursday, August 21, Holtzclaw was arrested and is facing nine criminal charges including two counts of sexual battery, two counts of indecent exposure, three counts of forcible oral sodomy, and two counts of rape, according to the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office.

Six other victims were found during the investigation, according to Nelson who said that some of the women “were initially less than cooperative, but investigators were able to gain statements.” Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty said that the incidents date back to February, so authorities believe there may be even more victims. He urged anyone who was sexually assaulted by Holtzclaw to come forward.

Holtzclaw’s bond was set at $5 million; at the time of news reports, it was unclear whether he had a defense lawyer.

Holtzclaw played on the Eastern Michigan University football team from 2005 through 2008.

All sex crimes are serious, particularly rape. In Michigan, rape is charged as first-degree criminal sexual conduct, an offense that involves penetration and leaves the offender facing potential life behind bars if convicted.

Individuals who are found guilty of committing even those sex crimes which may be considered less serious such as indecent exposure face ruin of their reputations and careers. More serious offenses will leave those convicted facing the requirement to register as sex offenders, which impacts employment, housing, and much more. Essentially, you life may be ruined if found guilty of rape, child molestation, or other serious charges.

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A man who has been in prison for about 16 years for allegedly raping and murdering a Kalkaska woman in 1996 will now get a new trial thanks to recent testing of DNA evidence, according to a news article at Mlive.com. Jamie Peterson was sentenced to life in prison for the 1996 crimes against Geraldine Montgomery, who was 68 years old at the time she was found dead in the trunk of her car after being raped. dna-markers-97211-m

At the time the crimes took place, DNA technology was in is infancy. The source of saliva and semen found on Montgomery’s shirt could not be identified, although prosecutors argued that it likely belonged to the defendant, Jamie Peterson.

Last year, the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago and Michigan Law School innocent projects concluded that Peterson had been wrongly convicted of the crime after sending hundreds of hours researching the case. DNA testing that was performed recently indicated that the saliva and semen did not belong to Peterson, but instead to James Anthony Ryan, a 35-year-old Davison man. The victim was raped before being left in the trunk of her car with the engine running.

The Innocence Clinic maintains that the DNA testing performed on the rape kit excludes Peterson as the donor. Ryan is awaiting trial on the charges, while Peterson will get a new trial as according to the judge, the DNA test results qualify as newly discovered evidence. Although Peterson made a false confession at the time of the rape and murder, his attorney maintains his client is innocent, and was never inside the victim’s home.

Michigan sex crime attorneys know all too well that suspects often confess when under duress and pressured relentlessly by police. While the most horrendous aspect of this case is the fact that the victim lost her life, being falsely accused of rape happens all too often. A man has spent many years of his life in prison for a crime he very likely did not commit, according to new DNA evidence.

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On Wednesday, August 13, an Emmett Township police officer who was not identified was arrested by Michigan State Police on two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a minor, according to news articles at Mlive.com. police-on-the-scene-1172422-m

Two separate incidents allegedly took place at the officer’s home while he was not on duty, according to a police news release. He has been suspended with pay while the investigation continues.

It was announced the following day that a special prosecutor is being sought by Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert’s office to review the case. State police investigators submitted the case to the prosecutor’s office for review on Thursday; Gilbert said that his office wants to request counsel from outside the county in order to “avoid the appearance of any impropriety.” The prosecutor who is brought in will then determine if charges should be filed against the officer.

While Michigan State Police and Gilbert declined to identify the officer, other media outlets have identified the alleged offender as Troy Estree, a 45-year-old Emmett Township resident whose wife is on staff with the Battle Creek Police Department as a detective.

First-degree CSC is an extremely serious charge, particularly when the crime involves a minor. In Michigan, anyone convicted of this offense, which involves penetration, may face a maximum term of life in prison. When the victim is younger than 13 years of age, the mandatory minimum prison term is 25 years. News reports in this cases do not reveal the age of the victim, only that she was a teenager.

As all Michigan sex crime lawyers know, these types of cases can be tough. Teenagers are often ready to explore areas such as sex, drugs, and alcohol. While this does not justify any adult taking advantage of a teen sexually, teens are also apt to make accusations regarding individuals in positions of authority. Proving or disproving allegations of sexual assault can be extremely difficult without solid, undisputable evidence.

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On July 29, 23-year-old Willus L. Williamson allegedly raped and robbed a woman near his East Side Saginaw home, according to news reports at Mlive.com. In all, Williamson has been charged with seven felonies including three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct causing personal injury, and one count each of unarmed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, assault by strangulation, and second-degree CSC causing personal injury. crowbar-854266-m

News reports indicate the crimes occurred about a block away from Williamson’s home, and that he took the victim’s clothing, cigarettes, lighter, and driver’s license. A statute which was made effective in April 2013 defines assault by strangulation as, “intentionally impeding normal breathing or circulation of the blood by applying pressure on the throat or neck or by blocking the nose or mouth of another person.”

If found guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, Williamson may face a maximum term of life in prison, as first-degree CSC involves penetration. The defendant may also face up to 15 years on the imprisonment and second-degree robbery charges. Williamson pleaded not guilty and is currently held on a $700,000 bond. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 15.

While all of the charges leveled against Williamson are serious, first-degree CSC is the most serious of all, as it could leave him facing the rest of his life behind bars if found guilty. It is too soon to tell at this point, but Williamson’s defense attorney may choose to discuss the possibility with his client of working a plea deal with prosecutors, particularly if the evidence against Williamson is solid. In most cases, pleading down to a lesser offense will result in less serious criminal penalties. However, if Mr. Williamson is indeed innocent, the case will likely go to trial.

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On Wednesday August 6, 45-year-old Bruce Scherzer of Bay city was arraigned on five felony charges in connection with the alleged sexual assault of a girl who is younger than 13, according to news reports at Mlive.com. sad-silhouette-1080946-m

The girl reported the two incidents, which allegedly took place in July, to staff at the Nathan Weidner Children’s Advocacy Center. She claimed that Scherzer had touched her private area, and had her touch his private area at a Bangor Township residence, and claimed that he had sex with her on two different occasions.

Scherzer is charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person younger than 13, an offense that if convicted could leave him facing up to life in prison. The mandatory minimum sentence for a conviction of first-degree CSC with someone younger than 13 is 25 years. Scherzer is also charged with three counts of second-degree CSC with a person younger than 13, a 15-year felony.

Scherzer, a married father of four children, requested that Bay County District Judge Mark E. Janer appoint him an attorney, as he could not afford to hire a lawyer himself. His bond was set at $200,000 as requested by the prosecutor, who said Scherzer had been convicted on a conspiracy to commit armed robbery charge back in the mid-90’s.

Protecting a defendant’s freedom and reputation can be extremely tough in sexual assault cases, particularly when children are involved. As all Michigan sex crime attorneys are aware, too many innocent people are found guilty of crimes of this nature. Children are easily influenced by adults, who may coerce them into making up stories or saying things that are not factual. While children are sexually abused in our country every day, there are unfortunately many cases in which innocent individuals sit behind bars today.

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