Internal investigation leads to dismissal of charges

An intensive internal investigation into the actions of former Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej has led Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel to file a motion to dismiss charges against two defendants and offer to stipulate to a motion to set aside the plea of another, she announced Monday.

Kolodziej resigned in lieu of termination in September following the discovery that he had an inappropriate relationship with a victim in a criminal sexual assault case while he served as the lead prosecutor on the file. Immediately after Kolodziej's resignation, the attorney general called for an internal investigation to review all of his criminal cases within the Department.

"As a strong advocate of transparency, I had every intention to release the conclusions of our internal investigation," said Nessel. "But after receiving an opinion from our Ethics Officer related to a release of the report and after several discussions with the law enforcement agencies pursuing a criminal investigation into Mr. Kolodziej's actions at our request, I ultimately but regretfully came to the conclusion that we simply cannot release this information at this time."

Nessel said the investigation took nearly two months to complete and included interviews with 26 individuals.

Nessel filed a motion to dismiss charges without prejudice against Larry Orr and his stepson Sean MacMaster in Oakland County's 52-3 District Court on Monday. MacMaster and Orr were each charged with two counts of First Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct with a child under 13 years of age.

"I am compelled to dismiss the charges in this case following the information we received regarding Mr. Kolodziej's prosecutorial conduct, which are tantamount to serious violations of our prosecutorial standards," said Nessel.

In addition to dropping the charges against Orr and MacMaster, Nessel also spoke on Monday with the defense counsel for Ian Elliott, who pleaded no contest to one felony count of third degree Criminal Sexual Conduct in Isabella County on August 2nd and was sentenced to a minimum of 366 days up to a maximum of 180 months in prison. He is currently serving his sentence in the St. Louis Correctional Facility. Nessel offered to concur in a defense motion to set aside Elliott's plea.

"We are committed to doing everything we can to address the issues caused by Mr. Kolodziej's employment as an assistant attorney general," said Nessel. "We will submit all of our internal interviews to the Michigan State Police as well as the Attorney Grievance Commission so they may independently determine appropriate actions.

"While we are not in a position to share our findings, we have taken swift, decisive action and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement as they move forward," Nessel concluded.

"In the end, today does not reflect the truthfulness of the victims in these cases but rather the consequence of a prosecutor who failed in his sacred duty to properly administer justice in our legal system.

"A prosecutor has the solemn responsibility to vindicate the rights of the victim while ensuring that those accused of a crime are given a fair trial. These two things are inextricably intertwined and sacrificing the latter to advance the interests of the former in the end defeats both.

"I hope that my actions here today are not viewed as a failure of our criminal justice system but instead a reflection of my commitment to the fundamental principles upon which it is based," said Nessel.

Published: Wed, Nov 27, 2019