Boyne City Man Charged With Numerous Sexual Assaults

Ryan Christopher Bentley, 17, of Boyne City, has been charged with five counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct, Third Degree, involving three different victims. The maximum penalty for each of the crimes is fifteen years in prison.

According to police affidavits, Bentley accomplished sexual penetration utilizing force or coercion with a 17-year old victim and engaged in sexual penetrations with a 15-year old victim and a 14-year old victim. The legal age of consent in Michigan is 16.

In all three cases, Bentley’s next court date is Jan. 9, 2018 for probable cause conferences with preliminary examinations to follow on Jan. 16.

Bentley has entered not guilty pleas on all files and he is presumed innocent unless and until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Bentley is free on bond. His bond was initially set at $100,000 but was lowered to a $5,000, 10% bond by 90th District Judge James N. Erhart. Bentley is subject to a GPS tether and is under house arrest while he awaits trial.

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News Release 12/1/17

Today in the 33rd Circuit Court, Lon James Kowalske, 61, of Boyne City, was sentenced to 12 months in jail and 48 months of probation on charges of possessing child sexually abusive material and using a computer to commit a crime.

The sentences were identical and will run concurrently. Kowalske had pleaded guilty on September 29, 2017.

It was discovered that Kowalske had numerous videos and images of very young children being abused sexually when he purchased a new computer and asked that some files be transferred to it from his old computer.

The Michigan State Police then investigated and reviewed two computer drives, finding over 200 child sexually abusive videos and images.

In sentencing the defendant to probation and jail, rather than prison, Judge Roy C. Hayes III cited the fact that the defendant had no prior criminal history and his need for intensive treatment to address his interest in these activities.

Also, today Judge Hayes sentenced Warren Edwin Witham, Jr., 37, of Boyne Falls, to 12 months in jail and 36 months of probation for possession of child sexually abusive material.

Witham had solicited and received nude photographs of an underaged victim. The activity was discovered by the victim’s mother who had installed a device on her child’s computer to monitor their activity.

Both Kowalske and Witham will be required to register as a sex offender as a result of their convictions. Neither will be allowed to use a computer during the time of their probationary terms.

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CHARLEVOIX MAN PLEADS GUILTY TO SEXUAL ASSAULT ON A CHILD

Anthony Atkinson, 38, Charlevoix, pleaded guilty to two counts of Criminal Sexual Conduct, First Degree this morning in the 33rd Circuit Court.

Atkinson admitted engaging in penile-vaginal penetration on two occasions with an 11-year-old in Hayes Township during the summer of 2017.

Because his victim was under the age of 13, Atkinson faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years and a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. Sentencing will occur on Jan. 12, 2018 at 9:00 a.m.

The case was investigated by Deputy Justin Kieliszewski and Sergeant William Church of the Charlevoix County Sheriff’s Office.

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Charlevoix Man Convicted of Sexual Contact With Minor

After three days of trial, deliberations that ran late into the night on Friday and continued for a half-day on Monday, a Charlevoix County jury convicted Robert Arthur Torres, 38, Charlevoix, of Criminal Sexual Conduct, Fourth Degree.

Torres was found not guilty of the greater charge he faced, Criminal Sexual Conduct, Third Degree.

Criminal Sexual Conduct, Fourth Degree is engaging in sexual contact with a person at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age. It carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison and requires that Torres register as a sex offender for the next 25 years.

The incident leading to the prosecution occurred in the City of Charlevoix back in 2015. The victim, who was 13 years old at the time of the incident, disclosed the assault in 2016. The jury also heard testimony from another witness who testified that Torres had engaged in similar conduct with her when she was between the ages of 12 and 15.

Charlevoix County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Caitlin Borchard tried the case for the prosecution while the Defendant was represented by John Jarema.

“We thank the jury for their time and consideration,” Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said. “It was difficult subject matter and was a lengthy case. The number of questions they asked and the length of time they deliberated showed they paid very close attention to this important case.”

The case was investigated by Deputy Chief Scott Hankins of the City of Charlevoix Police Department.

Torres will be sentenced in the 33rd Circuit Court by Judge Roy C. Hayes III on Dec. 15 at 9:00 a.m.

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Boyne Falls Man Gets Jail for Large Pot Business

This morning, 33rd Circuit Court Judge Roy C. Hayes III sentenced Stephen Chandler Benton, 52, of Boyne Falls to nine months in jail, eight held in abeyance and 18 months probation related to his guilty plea on Sept. 11, 2017 to possessing marijuana with the intent to deliver, maintaining a drug house and being a habitual offender.

As part of a plea agreement in the case, prosecutors dismissed another charge of manufacturing marijuana.

The maximum sentence Benton could have received was six years in prison on his charges. Benton also agreed to forfeit $100,000 that was seized by JOLT (Charlevoix County’s Joint Law Enforcement Team).

JOLT also seized over 18 pounds of marijuana and 31 plants. According to price lists maintained by Benton, also seized by police, the marijuana seized and destroyed had a street value of over $125,000.

Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said that while the $100,000 Benton lost through seizure was a significant penalty, it was important that his sentence include jail time.

“It is the wrong message that someone can buy their way out of their crime,” Telgenhof said. “This sentence gives the defendant time in jail to consider his actions and a probationary term to make sure he does not go back into business. If he chooses to do so, he will spend a significant time in jail.”

Benton operated a business that included massage and yoga as well as the illegal sale of marijuana, according to Telgenhof.

While on bond in the Charlevoix County case, Benton was arrested on drug charges out of Emmet County. That case is still pending.

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From Prosecuting Attorneys Association of Michigan Facebook page

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Boyne City Man Pleads Guilty After Jury Picked

In a rare occurrence this morning in the 33rd Circuit Court, Justin Raymond Stolt, 27, of Boyne City entered a guilty plea as charged immediately after a jury had been selected for the trial of his case. Stolt pleaded guilty to possession of buprenorphine, a schedule 3 controlled substance.

He has a prior drug conviction and therefore, the maximum sentence is increased to four years in prison on the charge. Unlawful possession of a schedule 3 controlled substance usually carries a two-year maximum.

“It was a little different, we had one defendant plead guilty just prior to jury selection a few years back, but this one was after selection,” Charlevoix County Prosecuting Attorney Allen Telgenhof said. “As Judge (Roy C.) Hayes told the jurors, a defendant has the right to plead guilty as charged at any point in the proceedings. Ultimately it is the same result as if he was convicted after the trial.”

Stolt was stopped in Boyne City on July 17, 2017 on an outstanding warrant. Police searched Stolt’s backpack and found a baggie containing a syringe, spoon, cotton balls and what appeared to be drug residue.

Testing confirmed that the substance was buprenorphine which is a controlled substance found in Suboxone, a drug used to help people with heroin addictions. Stolt did not have a prescription for the drug.

“I want to thank the jurors and all of the prospective jurors for their service,” Telgenhof said. “If it weren’t for their service, we would not have gotten the guilty plea. Also I want to commend the Boyne City Police Department, especially the officer in charge, Christie Hoenicke, for her work on the case as well as the Michigan State Police Crime Laboratory.

Stolt will be sentenced on December 1, 2017 at 9:00 a.m.

 

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