Recently, 35-year-old Chad Gregory Earnest of Roosevelt Park was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct in connection with a mental-health client he had been the case manager for over the last year. Earnest, a case manager at CMH (Community Health Services) of Muskegon County, has now been placed on unpaid leave.
Under Michigan penal code 750.520e, it is unlawful for a professional in the mental health field to have sexual contact with a client. According to an article at Mlive.com, Earnest picked the female client up in late October and made sexual comments to her while driving around in his vehicle. The two allegedly had sexual contact on at least two occasions.
In this case, prosecutors only have to prove that a professional/client relationship existed; it does not have to be proven that the woman did not consent to sexual contact. News reports indicate that the woman told her counselor about the incidents, who then informed Muskegon police. Matthew Kacel, the defendant’s attorney, said that his client is a well-respected member of the local mental health community.
Earnest’s next appearance in court will be for a probable cause hearing, which is set for November 12.
Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a high-court misdemeanor that does not involve penetration. The maximum punishment for those convicted is two years in prison.
Michigan sex crime attorneys understand that in cases such as this, possible time behind bars is not the only consequence those found guilty face. Professionals who work in a capacity such as Earnest may face ruin of their careers and reputation. When an individual works in an atmosphere where individuals have mental issues, it is often difficult to know whether the allegations are true, or fabricated.
Any allegations of sexual misconduct should be taken seriously, regardless of the circumstances. If you have been accused of sexual touching or something more serious including rape, it is critical to consult with a seasoned Michigan sex crime lawyer who will develop an aggressive defense and work to protect your legal rights and freedom.