Schuette praises Sexual Assault Cold Case Team on award

Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Thursday applauded the Calhoun County Cold Case Sexual Assault Team, recipients of the 2018 Betty J. Christ Memorial Award for Outstanding Community Advocacy.

Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert, Special Assistant Attorney General Michelle Richardson, and Investigator Jerry Stonebraker received this honor on April 18 for their “above and beyond” efforts to support victims and provide justice on cold-case sexual-assault prosecutions.

“I want to thank Calhoun County Prosecutor David Gilbert, Special Assistant Attorney General Richardson, and Investigator Stonebraker, who have worked tirelessly on the Calhoun County Sexual Assault Cold Case Team to bring justice to victims of sexual assault from years ago,” said Schuette. “This dedicated team continues to exceed expectations and is truly deserving of this recognition.”

“We in Calhoun County thank Mr. Schuette and the rest of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office in their proactive stance regarding untested rape kits throughout Michigan and finding the funds for testing. The money invested by Michigan does not compare to the value of justice, which is priceless to victims in our state.”

The Calhoun County team was the first outside of Wayne County to investigate and prosecute cases of sexual assault arising from the testing of previously untested sexual assault kits. The team partners with Sexual Assault Services of Calhoun County, in particular, Joyce Siegel and Jennifer Hudson, the team’s community-based advocate, and local law enforcement. The team has 2 convictions and 4 additional cases awaiting prosecution. And, as it continues to investigate, the team is inspired by and thankful for the courageous survivors.

In 2016, Schuette contacted 82 county prosecutors to count untested sexual assault kits. Thereafter, the Michigan State Police and the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Association of Michigan used grant funding from the Manhattan District Attorney and the Bureau of Justice Assistance, Sexual Assault Kit Initiative to inventory and test 3,442 previously untested sexual assault evidence kits.

The Michigan Legislature also provided funds to the Department of Attorney General to aid counties with investigation and prosecution. Currently, Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Ingham, and Kent counties have cold-case sexual assault projects.

Michigan victims of sexual violence are encouraged to call the national sexual assault hotline toll-free, 1-800-656-HOPE.  All calls are confidential and will be answered by a local counseling center affiliated with the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).  Assistance is also available online at www.rainn.org.

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