There are dozens of myths and misconceptions surrounding sexual assault and violence, but what are the facts? While there are countless people who are innocent sitting behind bars today for crimes they did not commit in every state in the U.S., the fact is sexual assault DOES happen – and much more often than you might think, as many victims do not report rape or other sex crimes. Below we’ve included five of the most common myths about sexual violence, along with the facts. 673264_hammer_to_fall

Myth #1 – Victims often “ask” to be raped or sexually assaulted by wearing revealing or promiscuous clothing or acting in a manner that may come across as inviting. The truth is, it makes absolutely no difference what a person is wearing (or not wearing) or how that person acts. Sexual assault and rape are threatening, forceful, and even violent crimes that can result in injury. Regardless of how a person is dressed, the act of forcing a person to engage in intercourse or any type of sexual activity without that person’s consent constitutes sexual assault.

Myth #2 – The majority of rapes or sexual assaults are committed by strangers; if the victim and perpetrator know each other, it isn’t a crime. This is a common misconception, and in fact most victims of rape or sexual assault are attacked by someone they know. In fact, in victims ages 18 to 29, about 65% who were raped or sexually assaulted had been in a relationship with the offender prior to the sexual violence.

Recently, 19-year-old Brendan Baia, a former student at Central Michigan University, was accused of ‘sexting’ with a 12-year-old girl. According to reports, Baia and the girl had been exchanging messages and photos via their cell phones that were sexually explicit. Police claim to have discovered more than 122 Snapchat messages between the two during the last two weeks of August on the suspect’s computer and cell phone. courtroom-one-gavel-1_l-300x200

Police were contacted by the girl’s mother after she searched through the 12-year-old’s cell phone because her daughter had been acting depressed. Baia has been charged with three counts of committing a crime with a computer, accosting a minor for immoral purposes, distributing child sexually abusive material, and possessing child sexually abusive material.

Baia told the alleged victim’s mother that her daughter told him she would be turning 16 soon. As of September 15, the investigation into the allegations were ongoing; Baia is out on bond.

Early Sunday morning over the long Labor Day holiday weekend it was reported that a sexual assault had occurred in McDonel Hall on the MSU (Michigan State University) campus. According to MSU police, the incident took place between 10:30 Saturday evening and 2:30 Sunday morning. The alleged sexual assault was reported at about 2:30 a.m. on Sunday. iStock_000014700004_XXXLarge (2)

Authorities at MSU called in the special victims unit to investigate the incident. According to the university, the SVU is referring to the situation as a “non-stranger investigation.” Investigations were ongoing as of last news reports. Essentially, in a “non-stranger” situation the alleged victim and perpetrator knew each other, or were at least familiar with one another to some extent.

Captain Doug Monette of the MSU police department said that “These types of crimes will not be tolerated on campus. They are a violation of Michigan state law as well as MSU policy on relationship violence and sexual misconduct.”

In late July, 36-year-old Christopher Craig Bennett pleaded no contest to seduction in the alleged sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl at Waldenwoods resort in Hartland in 2009. Bennett was a park ranger at the resort at the time, although it is unclear as to whether he is still employed. Bennett was initially charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, which prosecutors dismissed in exchange for his no contest plea. swing-in-a-park-1351566-m

The alleged victim was camping with her family at the time, who had been members of the resort for many years according to her father. He said the family had always respected the park rangers, and that when Bennett invited his daughter to go along with him on patrol, she agreed. Her father alleges that Bennett raped her on the grounds of the resort.

News reports indicate Bennett was sentenced on August 30 to four months in the Livingston County Jail after pleading no contest to seduction. He also faces two years of probation.

Matthew Parsons, a 48-year-old former Farmington Hills police officer who worked in law enforcement for 20 years, is now facing up to 7 years in prison after pleading guilty to possession of child sexually abusive material, using a computer to commit a crime, and recording an unclothed person. Parsons was initially charged with 13 counts of sex related crimes, however 10 of the charges were dropped in a deal made with the Attorney General’s Office according to news reports. Parsons is required to register as a sex offender for 15 years as part of his plea agreement. iStock_000000182036XSmall-300x224

Parsons is accused of using a camera disguised as a clock to photograph a friend’s 20-year-old daughter and possession of child pornography. He has requested his sentence be no longer than 12 months, and while his defense lawyer claims Parsons has mental health issues, the defendant said this is no excuse for his actions. Parsons said that any sentence beyond 12 months would prevent him from seeking the help he agrees he needs for his mental issues, and pleaded with the court to help him move forward. He expressed remorse before Judge Nanci Grant handed down his sentence in Oakland County Circuit Court.

At the time Parsons allegedly hung a camera in the bathroom of a friend’s home, he was renting the basement of the home. Farmington Hills Police Chief Chuck Nebus said that while Parsons was on the job at the police department, no crimes were committed. Nebus went on to say that the department worked hand-in-hand with the attorney general’s investigation, and fully cooperated.

Recently, 73-year-old Harry Morel Jr., a 33-year veteran prosecutor in St. Charles Parish in justiceLouisiana, was sentenced to three years in prison for allegedly trading sex for leniency in cases he prosecuted.  Federal authorities investigated the case for three years before Morel eventually pleaded guilty in April of this year.

Authorities claim Morel is a ‘sexual predator’ who engaged in sexual misconduct for about 20 years with at least 20 difference women, according to the Times-Picayune.  News reports reveal that one woman who was facing a DUI charge helped build a case against Morel, an extremely popular man who had been elected as St. Charles Parish’s district attorney for more than 30 years.  Even though Morel is accused of giving women charged with crimes favorable treatment in exchange for sex, he hasn’t been charged with any sex crimes, and has been disbarred as he is scheduled to begin serving his prison sentence on September 26.
Continue reading

It’s no secret today that many individuals are convicted of sex crimes they did not commit. Unfortunately, unlike with other crimes those found guilty of rape, child pornography, sexual assault, and other offenses don’t only face punishment in the form of jail or prison time, probation, etc. They also face undeserved special attention in the form of being labeled a sex offender. This is extreme punishment when an innocent person has been found guilty of a sex crime, as sex offender status not only destroys a person’s reputation, it also impacts employment and housing opportunities, and much more. With sex crimes, those who are wrongfully convicted certainly face punishment that does not “fit the crime.” file451297827287

How does this even happen? How can someone who is completely innocent of the crime he or she is accused of be found guilty? While it can happen with any type of crime, it is particularly easy for someone who’s innocent to be convicted of a sex crime. If you’re reading this article, be aware it could even happen to you, although it seems impossible – others who are locked behind bars today probably thought the same exact thing.

In every state including Michigan, the penalties for those convicted of a sex crime are extremely harsh. The unfortunate truth is that about a quarter of reported sexual attacks are false. Even with a lack of physical evidence, many prosecutors secure convictions because of juries who may feel sympathetic toward the “alleged” victim. Considering the details of these reported “crimes” are often horrific in nature, it sometimes isn’t difficult for a judge or jury to be convinced the victim is telling the truth – even if the story is fabricated.

Stuart Dunnings III, the former prosecutor for Ingham County who served for nearly 20 yearsstuart dunnings iii and began his career as prosecutor in 1997, has pleaded guilty to two charges after 13 of the charges involving patronage of prostitutes over a five year period were dropped in a plea deal.

Initially, Dunnings faced 10 counts of engaging in prostitution, four counts of willful neglect of duty, and a single count of pandering prostitution.  According to witness statements, Dunnings paid for YMCA memberships, rent, methadone treatments, and other things in exchange for sex.

While he was Ingham County prosecutor, Dunnings was allegedly soliciting sex with prostitutes while at the same time publicly attacking human trafficking.  Now, according to Michigan AG Bill Schuette, Dunnings has pleaded guilty to a single felony misconduct in office charge, and one misdemeanor count of soliciting a prostitute.
Continue reading

According to federal campus safety data, in 2014 the colleges and universities with the highest number of rapes on campus were the University of Connecticut and Brown University, a private Ivy League university in Providence, RI. However, sexual assault among college students (whether on or off campus) is a growing problem around the nation. 1195993_learn_english_1

A survey involving 150,000+ students at 27 universities conducted by the Association of American Universities revealed some very disturbing numbers. What’s not surprising is that in many cases, unwanted sexual contact or even rape occurs when students are under the influence of drugs or alcohol – in other words, incapacitated.

The survey found that 23% of female college students who participated said they had been the victims of unwanted sexual contact, whether it be kissing or touching, or even rape. Almost 11% claimed they were forced into unwanted oral sex or penetration.

Michigan criminal defense attorneys know that individuals found guilty of sex crimes involving children face extremely serious consequences. Recently, 35-year-old Kevin M. Lambert of Ypsilanti was sentenced to up to 70 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to six counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a 4-year-old girl who was in his care, according to news reports. Michigan Department of Corrections Struggles With Budget Challenges Pic

In October of last year, Lambert was charged in federal court for producing, distributing, receipt, and possession of child pornography. An undercover federal agent discovered that several videos and images of a young female child were displayed in a chat room, posted by a user with screen name Akyle679, and that the user insinuated the young girl was a child who was in his care. After discovering that the screen name belonged to Lambert on the Kik messaging app, agents began surveilling Lambert’s home. He was taken into federal custody and indicted on the charges.

The incidents took place between April and October of last year; all child pornography cases are handled at the federal level. On July 14, Lambert was sentenced to 40 years in federal prison by U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Nancy Edmunds on the producing, distributing, and possessing charges. An incident in June 2015 led to charges on six counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, which Lambert pleaded guilty to. These charges resulted in the 70-year sentence handed down on July 20. Lambert will serve the 40-year and 40 to 70 year sentences concurrently.