Articles Posted in Sex Crimes

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to accuse someone of sexual assault in today’s society. Many who accuse others of sexual assault do so when they aren’t clear on what actually occurred due to the fact they were under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or simply made wrongful allegations out of spite or revenge. iStock_000000182036XSmall-300x224

Recently a Roman Catholic priest in Northern Michigan was found not guilty by a jury of allegedly sexually assaulting another priest. According to news reports, Reverend Sylvestre Obwaka was acquitted of sexually assaulting another priest who testified in court that while visiting Obwaka and spending a night in Rogers City at the rectory at St. Ignatius Church, he was sexually assaulted by the priest. Obwaka did not deny sexual contact, however he did maintain the consensual sex took place following a night of drinking.

Obwaka is a native of Kenya and became pastor at St. Ignatius in 2013, although he has been a priest since 2010. Gaylor Bishop Steven Raica, a witness at the three-day trial who reportedly spoke to the accused following the alleged assault said that Obwaka didn’t indicate consensual sex between the two priests. Bishop Raica spoke on the phone with Obwaka, and said he was concerned when the priest admitted he couldn’t recall what occurred between him and the alleged victim.

Recently it was announced the House of Representatives had passed a bill that could effectively leave teenagers facing 15 years in prison for doing something many teens do – sexting, or sending messages or photos via mobile devices that are sexually explicit in nature. The measure was called “deadly and counterproductive” by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime who said the bill, although well intended, will ultimately punish our children, the very people the it is designed to protect. shutterstock_106035773-300x200

Michigan Rep. Justin Amash was one of only two Republicans who voted against the bill; a spokesperson from his office said Amash opposes mandatory minimum expansions and crimes already prosecuted at the state level. Additionally, H.R. 1761 or the “Protecting Against Child Exploitation Act of 2017” reportedly prohibits some conduct that Congress is not allowed to regulate under the Constitution.

The new bill builds on existing law making teen-to-teen sexting a crime. At the present time any person who violates the sexting law may be sentenced to a minimum of 15 years in prison, and possibly up to 30 years. This is the punishment for first-time offenders; the penalties for second- or third-time offenders is even more serious.

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.
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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.
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