Earlier this month, a 34-year-old Michigan man was arrested and charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct after authorities received information that he allegedly inappropriately touched a female student. According to one local news source, the man was a coach at West Ottawa High School in Holland, Michigan.
Police began investigating the man, a wrestling coach and special education teacher, for the allegations after a concerned parent came forward telling authorities what she had heard through others. It is unclear what the exact source of the information was.
Authorities told reporters that the man does not pose a safety threat to the public and that he therefore was not arrested. He will be required to appear in court in the near future, however.
Hearsay and Proving Criminal Charges
All criminal offenses have certain elements that must be met before someone can be found guilty of the offense. These elements may be met in a number of ways. Most often, they are met through the direct testimony of the complaining witness, or victim. However, in some cases other people tip off authorities, who may never have an opportunity to speak with the alleged victim.
As a general matter, Michigan rules of evidence require that any statement made by an outside party (i.e., someone who is not present at court to testify) that is submitted to the court for the “truth of the matter asserted” be kept out of evidence because it is considered hearsay. Hearsay is disfavored by courts for several reasons, most notably because it can be self-serving and unreliable. Therefore, there is a preference in Michigan courts to have the person who made the statement show up at court and testify themselves.
Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct
As mentioned above, each crime has certain elements that must be met. The man in the case above was charged with fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. In order for that crime to be proven, and for a defendant to be convicted, the prosecution must show that the defendant made “sexual contact” with another and that:
Exactly what constitutes “sexual contact” is not certain and is decided on a case-by-case basis. If the prosecution is unable to prove each of those elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the judge (or jury) must find the defendant not guilty.
Have You Been Charged With a Michigan Sexual Offense?
If you have recently been charged with any degree of criminal sexual conduct in Michigan, you should contact an attorney immediately. Depending on the circumstances of the alleged offense, you may be facing lifetime reporting as a sex offender in addition to other criminal consequences. It is therefore critical that you enlist the assistance of a dedicated Michigan criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Steven Schwartz has been defending Michiganders for over 25 years in all kinds of criminal cases, including cases of criminal sexual conduct. Call (240) 930-5019 to set up a free consultation with Attorney Schwartz today.