ROGERS CITY - After three days of testimony and nearly four hours of deliberation, a jury found a Hawks man guilty of four charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.
Jeremiah Allen Dewey, 36, was convicted of the four charges after his girlfriend's daughter testified he'd committed sexual acts on her between 2004 and April 2005. Presque Isle County Prosecutor Richard Steiger said she had told investigators about many other instances, but the criminal charges focused on the four occasions she could best recall. A jury previously convicted Dewey of a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in June for molesting the same girl in 2013.
Steiger also told Judge Scott Pavlich his office will be withdrawing a third set of charges against Dewey involving a four-year-old girl who testified in the most recent case. The girl is the victim's young sister, and afterward Steiger said he didn't want to put her through another trial so soon. He may consider refiling charges at a later date.
Police and Child Protective Services investigated after receiving an anonymous tip in 2005 that Dewey was molesting the victim, and the jury heard from the Michigan State Police trooper and CPS employee who handled it. They closed the investigation due to lack of evidence, and because the girl never disclosed any abuse when they interviewed her.
"Why, I don't know," Steiger said during closing arguments. "Is it like the little boy who gets beaten with a belt every day and thinks there's nothing wrong with it? I don't know. I don't know the answer."
The girl testified earlier in the trial that Dewey touched her inappropriately in 2013 while helping her stretch after athletic practice, a charge of which he was convicted in June. The girl had told a counselor about the recent molestation and what Dewey did in 2005. The counselor then reported it to the state, as required by law. While investigating the incident, Presque Isle County Sheriff's Det. Steve Porter revisited the 2005 investigation.
That led to the current charges, which cover four different times Dewey violated the now teenage girl when she was five.
Patrick Crowley, Dewey's attorney, pointed out to several apparent inconsistencies in the girl's testimony, including whether or not she'd told investigators in 2005 about the sexual abuse. She testified that she had, while both investigators said she had not.
Steiger went over the girl's testimony, reminded the jury that by law they can convict on circumstantial evidence alone and that the girl's testimony doesn't need corroboration. If they believed her enough to convince them beyond a reasonable doubt that Dewey is guilty, that would be enough to convict.
After 2005, the girl had lived out of state for some years, she told the court. She understood that it was because of what Dewey had done to her. Eventually she wanted to live with her mother and siblings again, and asked to return to Michigan. She asked her mother not to leave her alone with Dewey, a condition her mother agreed to keep.
The court also heard testimony about concerns over the victim's four-year-old sister, including testimony from the girl herself. Following the 2013 investigation she was removed from her home, and her foster mother and a family nurse practitioner noticed behavior that suggested sexual abuse. In addition, the girl told several people that Dewey
Dewey's family had claimed that he was working out of town often in 2004 and 2005, either training in class or on the job for his trade. Steiger asked Rogers City Police Officer Jeff Wood present his findings that many of the jobs Dewey worked were in Northeast Michigan, and Wood had no proof that Dewey had attended school in the Saginaw Bay area as his family claimed.
Crowley said the work record and Wood's findings were incomplete, although the officer said he had a complete listing of every job Dewey had taken at the time through his union.
The case involved the victim's memories, and came down to circumstantial evidence with strong direct evidence as well, Steiger said, adding the girl remembered Dewey committing the acts.
Crowley questioned the victim's memories, and pointed to expert testimony from Developmental Psychologist Kamala London. She specializes in memories and how children report maltreatment, and said children are capable of accurately reporting past events. That's true even for young children, especially if allowed to use their own words.
However, London said memories are clearest right after the event, and while a delay doesn't necessarily point to a false memory, external factors can influence memories. Children can be pressured into making false reports and even come to believe them. They also have motive to make false reports.
London couldn't offer her opinion on the case because she had no access to the forensic interview recordings, Crowley said.
After the trial, Steiger thanked the jury for its diligence and close attention to detail.
"They took their time, they looked at all the evidence, and justice has been done once again for a little girl," he said. "I find no crime more reprehensible than the rape of a little five-, six-year-old child, and I greatly appreciate the verdict that was returned in this matter and hope that this brings the girl some comfort as she goes on with her life."
Crowley declined to comment, and said it was too soon to say whether he'd consider appealing the case.
Pavlich set Dewey's sentencing for Aug. 4.