Charges against Winfield victim unlikely, police say
ALPENA — The victim of former Alpena Public Schools teacher Heather Winfield likely won’t face charges after Winfield accused him of raping her, police said.
A jury last month found Winfield guilty of accosting a minor for immoral purposes but acquitted her of charges she had sex with the boy, her former student, when he was between 11 and 13 years old.
Speaking from the stand during her trial last month, Winfield alleged the boy raped her shortly before he went to police in June 2018.
Police interviewed the former student about Winfield’s accusations but could not find any evidence or witnesses to allow them to pursue charges, said 1st Lt. John Grimshaw, commander of the Michigan State Police-Alpena Post.
Winfield first told police about the alleged rape in July 2018, Grimshaw and Winfield’s attorneys said. Police looked into those allegations while investigating the former student’s accusations against her, Grimshaw said.
The survivor testified during Winfield’s trial he had no recollection of the day on which Winfield said he raped her.
The News does not identify survivors of sexual assault without their permission. The News is continuing to identify Winfield because she has been charged with and convicted of a crime.
Winfield never filed a police report regarding her allegations, according to her attorneys.
Pursuing charges against the former student, now 17 years old, falls on the shoulders of police and Alpena County Prosecutor Cynthia Muszynski, defense attorneys Matt Wojda and Alan Curtis said on Tuesday.
Muszynski said Winfield could have filed a police report at the time of the alleged incident and could still do so. She declined to comment further on Winfield’s case.
In August of this year, Winfield refused to allow police to examine her phone after she had implied to police that the phone contained evidence about the alleged assault, according to Grimshaw.
When a detective urged Winfield, through her attorneys, to cooperate so police could conduct a thorough investigation, Wojda told police he would consult with his client but did not follow up with police, Grimshaw said.
Wojda on Tuesday said Winfield did not trust police to give her statements proper consideration while they were investigating her.
A video shown during Winfield’s trial showed the former student, then 13, pulling at Winfield’s shirt to reveal her chest while she told him to stop.
That act constituted assault and should be evidence enough for police to consider requesting charges against the former student, Curtis and Wojda said.
Should police or the prosecutor decide to file charges, Winfield will cooperate with the investigation, her attorneys said.
If police need an official report from Winfield to start an investigation, Curtis said Tuesday, he will discuss that possibility with his client.