With a verdict of guilty in the Bill Cosby case, legal pundits across the country are faced with a decision of whether the outcome was one that was just or one that was the product of outrage on social media? The Cosby decision leads many to wonder if the famed comedian and actor was a victim of his own fame or someone that truly deserved the punishment that will be dealt out at sentencing. In any event, the Cosby decision is one that is filled with controversy and will have a profound affect the legal community. How the judicial system and social media will continue to co-exist is a matter of pure speculation but one that needs to be addressed and this article will attempt to do so.

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Photo Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

There is no question that the “#MeToo” Movement has left a resounding mark on those in the criminal defense sector and the state of Michigan has come to the forefront with accusations of criminal assault on the rise. To review the Cosby case and to discuss the impact felt across the state of Michigan, we sat down with leaders in the criminal law sector to gather their thoughts on the issue.

In what looked like an impossible hurdle to climb, the law firm of Grabel and Associates shocked the state of Michigan by winning their second decision before the Michigan Supreme Court in less than a 3-week time span when the highest court of the state overturned the “People v. Alexander” decision that was rendered before the Michigan Court of Appeals (People v. Alexander, 2016 WL 5887900 [Red Flagged Michigan Court of Appeals decision]).

The case is one that has garnered an immense amount of controversy on social media and beyond. At trial, a jury found former Michigan State Police Officer Brian Alexander guilty of four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct but after that decision was rendered the defendant filed a motion for a new trial and evidentiary hearing based upon various allegations which included inconsistent testimony that was on the record at the preliminary hearing and new evidence that could’ve changed the outcome of the case. The trial court granted the motion and with it a new trial was ordered. The Michigan Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s decision and now the Michigan Supreme Court weighed in by overturning the Appellate Court which leaves the legal community to ponder whether or not newly discovered evidence will grant a new trial? Grabel04a-2-300x146

Scott Grabel of Grabel and Associates was the lead counsel for the defense. Grabel spoke of the Supreme Court’s decision and weighed in on the law. Grabel was quoted as saying, “Whenever you are faced with a decision such as this, we have to turn to “People v. Cress” which lays out the elements that have to be proven (People v. Cress,  468 Mich 678, 664 NW2d 174 [2003]). The Cress court provides the blueprint and once that research is completed, it’s time to go to battle. Today, our Supreme Court voted in the favor of protecting the constitutional rights of not only Brian Alexander but anyone faced with similar circumstances and now he has a new chance at freedom. As a criminal defense attorney, the only thing that we can really ask is that our court system preserves the protections of our constitution. Today, I’m proud to say that was accomplished.”

Recently it was reported that Grant Perry, a wide receiver for the University of Michigan football teamiStock_000011098721_Full-2-300x200 from Royal Oak was arrested after allegedly touching a woman in an inappropriate manner as Perry and the woman were in line waiting to enter an East Lansing bar.  The incident reportedly occurred on October 15.  Perry, who is 19 years old, was charged with a single count of underage drinking, two counts of criminal sexual conduct, and one count of assaulting, battering, resisting or obstructing an officer.

December 29th news reports reveal Perry denied that he sexually assault the woman.  The incident took place at a bar and restaurant locating in East Lansing, Lou & Harry’s, where witnesses said Perry and two other men tried to cut in line while approximately 20 or 25 others waited outside of the establishment.  One officer reported that after requesting Perry’s identification, he fumbled through his wallet and attempted to run away before he was apprehended and arrested by another officer.
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Recently it was revealed that two 17-year-olds and an 18-year-old were arrested after Detroit police claim iStock_000068527987_Large-2-300x200the teens were interfering in a prostitution sting.  The teens are now filing suit against police, saying they were mistreated when police ordered them out of a vehicle and handcuffed them. According to news reports two of the teens were waiting for the third to get off work while simultaneously police were conducting a prostitution sting at a CVS across the street.

Police claim the teens were trying to warn a relative not to have any dealings with a prostitute who was undercover, however their lawyers maintain this behavior isn’t a crime.  Ultimately, the teens were helping to stop a crime regardless of their intentions.  A photo taken and posted via Snap Chat allegedly made the teens feel humiliated.  Two of the teens were minors, and news reports claim police drove all three around before dropping them off and telling them to walk to Dearborn, their home.  Sex crimes defense attorneys want to uncover the police officers’ motive, although criminal charges against the teens were dropped in August.
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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.

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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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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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.

Being charged with sexual assault at any level can be life changing.  In Michigan, sexual assault or victim-shadowrape is charged as criminal sexual conduct, or CSC of varying degrees.  An individual may be charged with first-, second-, third-, or fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct depending on certain factors such as whether penetration occurred, the age of the alleged victim, and more.

The person charged with CSC may be referred to as the defendant or “actor.”  There are certain definitions under Michigan Penal Code Section 750.520a that will help you better understand each degree (1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th) as we explain them below.  

Actor.  The actor, or defendant, is the individual accused of committing CSC.

Intimate parts include the breast, groin, buttock, inner thigh, or primary genital area of an individual.

Sexual penetration includes not only sexual intercourse, but any intrusion by an object or other body part into an opening (genital, anal) and also includes anal intercourse, fellatio, and cunnilingus.

Sexual contact is defined as deliberate touching of someone else’s intimate parts as defined above, regardless of whether those intimate parts are clothed or unclothed.

First- and third-degree criminal sexual conduct (or sexual assault) involves penetration, which second- and fourth-degree CSC (sexual assault) involves only sexual contact.
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