In August of 2014, Troy Estree, at the time an Emmett Township police officer, was arrested for allegedly sexually assaulting a teenage girl in his home. Estree was placed on administrative leave following his arrest, his position terminated just three weeks ago. On January 27, a Calhoun County jury found Estree not guilty on the charges leveled against him.
The jury deliberated for three hours on Tuesday afternoon and more than six hours on Wednesday before reaching the not guilty decision. Estree, who is 46, was accused of raping a 15-year-old relative over the first eight months of 2014; he was charged with nine counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the most serious charge in cases involving sex-related offenses. Had he been found guilty, Estree would have faced up to life in prison.
The alleged victim had been estranged from Estree for 13 years according to prosecutors, who said she was orally and anally assaulted while working to re-establish a relationship with Estree. The girl testified on the stand for five hours according to news reports, describing various assaults that the defense attorney found unbelievable. The girls said she was assaulted on a bench in Bridge Park during a ride-a-long while Estree was on duty, in a camper in the yard of his home, at his house where his wife, children, and other people were present, in the back of his patrol car, and more. The defense lawyer said that none of the stories made sense, that each scenario was a high-risk situation and added that in some instances the defendant would have been wearing his duty belt containing 25 lbs. of equipment.
Social media and text messages also played a vital role in the case, as Estree’s defense attorney urged jurors to pour over exhibits so they could find the “truth” in the context of the messages, e-mails, and other evidence prosecutors brought forth.
On Wednesday afternoon after 9 1/2 hours of deliberation, the jury found Estree not guilty on all nine counts. The jury was comprised of nine women and three men.
While we have to put our faith in the fact that the criminal justice system works and that Estree is indeed innocent of the charges, this is a classic example of what sometimes happens. Certainly underage girls are taken advantage of sexually in many cases, but there are also situations in which children (or even adults) make false allegations against others out of spite, anger, jealousy, or a multitude of other reasons. While we cannot know for certain whether a defendant is guilty or innocent without clear, undeniable physical evidence, many spend decades or even life behind bars for crimes they did not commit.
Anyone who is accused of a sex-related crimes must consult with an experienced Michigan sex crimes attorney. These cases are extremely complex; without a capable defense lawyer, the risk of a conviction is much greater. A conviction will result in severe punishment and life-changing consequences – don’t risk your reputation, freedom, and future.