History of the Rape Shield Statute

A group known as the Michigan Women’s Task Force on Rape was mostly responsible for the creation and adoption of Michigan’s Rape Shield Statute in 1974. The group paid close attention to how the previous rape laws discouraged women from reporting crimes. Particularly important was the law referencing how judges had the discretion to determine when evidence of the alleged victim’s prior consensual sexual activity could be used to impeach his or her credibility. Because of this, women shied away from testifying since it meant that their sex lives would likely be questioned. Michigan’s Rape Shield Statute sought to prevent this from happening and created a first-of-its-kind protection for alleged victims. Under rape shield, alleged victims would be generally protected from facing questions about their sexual activity with anyone else. This approach has become the most common approach to rape shield laws in each state across the country, so much so that other states refer to this approach as the “Michigan approach.” There are exceptions to rape shield which do allow defense attorneys to cross-examine the alleged victim’s about prior specific accusations and other conduct. A judge has to agree that the defense has met their burden to be allowed an exception under rape shield before an alleged victim can be questioned. If you have specific questions about a sex offense case, then it is important that you speak directly to an experienced sex crimes attorney. iStock_000003118029_Large-2-300x200

Rape Shield Law Explained

Original Case Details

As detailed in a previous blog, former Grand Traverse County Jail Administrator Todd Ritter is facing multiple allegations relating to inappropriate relationships with current and former female jail inmates. Investigations into Ritter uncovered explicit text messages and photographs involving female inmates of the Grand Traverse County Jail. He is also accused of misappropriating funds by allegedly taking a female inmate to a Lansing hotel and expensing the hotel room to Grand Traverse County. Other accusations include stealing drug test kits and keeping certain female prisoners past their sentences for personal satisfaction. As an overall maximum, Ritter is facing up to 15 years in prison based on his current criminal charges. A listing of Ritter’s criminal charges and potential penalties are listed below. iStock_000022895015_Full-2-300x200

Criminal Charges and Penalties

Original Case Details

A now-former Flint police officer is facing multiple charges for multiple child sex offenses now with two alleged victims. Justin McLeod is alleged to have molested a girl under the age of 13 and another young female whose age has not been publicly disclosed. McLeod faces nine criminal charges related to each alleged victim. The second alleged victim is reportedly now an adult. She alleges that McLeod sexually abused her for a period of two and a half years while she was a child. McLeod faced initial investigation when the first alleged victim contacted a forensic nurse examiner and discussed her allegations of sexual abuse against McLeod. In response, the Genesee County Sheriff’s Office, the Flushing Township Police Department, and the Genesee Human Oppression Strike Team (GHOST) worked together to raid McLeod’s residence to take him into custody. He was initially arraigned on nine felony charges related to the first alleged victim and about a week later was arraigned on nine more on a second alleged victim who just came forward. McLeod worked with the Flint Police Department for five years and was part of the K9 and motorcycle units. He remains in custody at the Genesee County Jail without bond. iStock_000068527987_Large-2-300x200

Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

Original Case Details

A man from the Northern Michigan County of Roscommon was recently found guilty of multiple sex crimes that allege he held a woman against her will and forced her to clean his house and perform sex acts. The woman was actually herself arrested for stealing a vehicle, but she told Roscommon County police officers that she escaped from a home where she was being held against her will and was being forced into prostitution. She said that two men, James Jarrell and Jeffrey Kobel were her captors and that they also dealt drugs from the home. She told police that she was taken from her home in Ypsilanti and was forced to be in Northern Michigan by the men. Multiple police and investigative agencies cooperated to respond to the home where these men were alleged to live. The Michigan State Police sent the Emergency Support Team (EST), the Strike Team Investigative Narcotics Group (STING), the Houghton Lake Post, and a police canine to join the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office in executing a search warrant on Jarrell and Kobel’s home. The men were arrested and criminally charged. Jarrell was recently found guilty on his charges while Kobel awaits his trial. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Criminal Charges and Penalties

Original Case Details

An Allegan County Judge is under fire for emails uncovered that show the judge communicating privately with a prosecutor about a case she presided over during a jury trial. Allegan Circuit Court Judge Margaret Zuzich-Bakker emailed Allegan County Prosecutor Myrene Koch as witnesses testified in front of her and inquired about the answers she was hearing and about the general investigation of the case. The Allegan County Prosecutor responded to the initial email and continued to have substantive conversations about the case. The case in question was a multi-count criminal sexual conduct case. The defendant in the case was charged and convicted with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. He was later sentenced by Judge Zuzich-Bakker to a minimum of 20 years in prison for each conviction which run concurrently. When it was discovered Judge Zuzich-Bakker had privately communicated with the prosecutor’s office during the trial in question, an appeal was made to the court. Judge William Baillargeon decided in favor of the appellant and granted him a new trial. If you are facing an investigation or criminal charges related to accusations of sexual assault, then it is important that you speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. iStock_000003118029_Large-2-300x200

Trial Judge’s Objectionable Emails

Original Case Details

49-year-old Michael Clune is facing sex offense charges in three different northern Michigan counties after new charges were announced against him by the Michigan Attorney General’s Office. In Roscommon and Shiawassee Counties, Clune is accused of using the internet to meet underage boys for sex. It is alleged that at least one of these meetings led to a sexual encounter in Shiawassee County. A search of Clune’s residence led investigators to find electronic devices at the home that resulted in criminal charges for what was found on the devices. Clune is alleged to have used the dating app Grindr to meet victims and form relationships with them. Before the announcement of charges in Roscommon and Shiawassee Counties, Clune was already awaiting trial on similar sex offense charges in Clare County. Once it became apparent that the cases against Clune would span across multiple counties, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office got involved, which led to Clune facing charges in three separate jurisdictions. If you are facing a sex offense charge, then it is important to speak to an experienced Michigan sex crime defense attorney immediately. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Criminal Charges & Potential Penalties

Original Case Details

A Michigan couple from the Huron County city of Sebewaing has pled guilty to federal charges related to allegations of possessing and distributing child pornography. 28-year-old Tyler Zimmerman appeared in the United States District Court in Bay City and pled guilty to a single count of distribution and receipt of child pornography. In the plea agreement, Zimmerman admits that in a specific period in the fall of 2018, he shared a video, three photographs and a gif containing child pornography with others on Tumblr in order to receive similar types of material. Upon investigation of Zimmerman’s cell phone, investigators found over 150 videos and images of underage children in sexually explicit circumstances. The plea agreement further states that at least 13 of the images that Zimmerman was in possession of were identified as those of missing children. He admitted to looking at child porn because “it made him feel like he was in school again.” Zimmerman’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Dana Taggart, was implicated when Zimmerman’s Facebook account was searched, and it was discovered that Zimmerman had received five child porn videos from Taggart in April of 2019. Taggart has separately pled guilty in the same United States District Court to one count of transportation of obscene matters in her own federal criminal case. Being charged with any criminal offense is a serious matter, and you should seek the advice of an experienced criminal defense attorney if you are facing criminal charges. Michigan-High-Court-Considers-the-Term-“Possession-of-Child-Pornography”-Pic-225x300

Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

Original Case Details

Michigan State University’s former President Lou Anna Simon was originally charged with four counts of lying to police. She was accused of lying to investigators about her knowledge about complaints involving former MSU sports medicine doctor Larry Nassar, who has since been convicted in multiple cases of sexually abusing hundreds of women. Eaton County District Court Judge Julie Reincke initially bound over Simon on the four charges, after finding that the prosecutor met their probable cause standard to continue the case to Circuit Court. The case was bound over to Eaton County Circuit Court Judge John Maurer, who upon review of the case, found that District Court Judge Reincke abused her discretion and ignored a lack of evidence in the case. Because of this finding, the case against Simon was then dismissed by Judge Maurer. The State of Michigan has appealed Maurer’s decision to dismiss to the Michigan Court of Appeals. iStock_000001983354_Large-2-300x200

State of Michigan Appeals to Reinstate Charges

Original Case Details

A 17-year-old from Detroit is facing multiple criminal charges as an adult stemming from four different incidents that allege that he sexually assaulted multiple women and used a firearm to commit multiple crimes. Jaden Deangelo Jones is firstly accused of sexually assaulting a woman 41 years of age on Grand River in Detroit. He is also accused of firing a single shot at a 36-year-old woman who rejected his sexual advances about an hour later on Pierson near Grand River in Detroit. Investigators also believe that Jones grabbed a woman 67 years of age by her buttocks, robbed her at gunpoint, and followed her home before he fled after seeing the woman’s husband. Lastly, he is alleged to have robbed a woman 43 years of age at gunpoint and also sexually assaulted her on Lahser in Detroit. Jones is currently being held on all four cases separately. He is currently being held on cash bonds that total over $2 million. iStock_000011602905_Large-2-300x200

Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

Original Case Details

Former Grand Traverse County Jail Administrator is facing serious accusations involving the sexual assault and explicit relationships with current and former female inmates. Allegations involving Ritter having inappropriate relationships with female inmates surfaced last year during an internal investigation that uncovered sexually charged text messages and explicit photographs of former and current inmates on his government-issued cell phone and laptop. He is accused of taking a former inmate to a Lansing hotel and then expensing it to the County, as well as signing onto a corrections department computer to a single mother dating website and further saving a profile as “Big Tex.” He is also accused of stealing drug test kits neglecting his duty to make sound financial decisions with county money by costing Grand Traverse County nearly $10,000 in keeping a specific female prisoner past her sentence while sending other inmates to other jails at the County’s expense. His bond was set at $50,000 at his arraignment. iStock_000022895015_Full-2-300x200

Criminal Charges and Potential Penalties

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