Assault victim testifies in front of teen suspect
A Berrien County judge heard emotional testimony on Friday as she determines if a 16-year-old Benton Harbor teen should be tried as an adult.
The 16-year-old boy has admitted to sexually assaulting a mail carrier as she walked by his home on McAlister Avenue in Benton Harbor on March 31, according to the suspect’s attorney.
The boy is charged with kidnapping and criminal sexual conduct.
In court Friday, it was revealed that the 16-year-old has a criminal record that includes larceny, retail fraud, and two domestic violence charges – all before the assault in March.
Judge Mabel Mayfield heard from three witnesses, including the assault victim.
While her name will not be revealed in this report, some of her gripping testimony is.
Here’s how she described what happened in broad daylight on March 31, while she was just doing her job.
“I put the mail in the mailbox, turned around, and was approached by the defendant,” the victim said. “My instinct as, you know, being on the job, I started to say, ‘Can I help you with something?’ But before I could get all of it out, he came and he grabbed me by my arms and started to push me backwards…he started to kind of push-pull this way, toward the side of the house…and at some point during that time, I remember I started screaming and he tackled me to the ground…and he put his arm over me, so that I couldn’t move…then he started to fondle me.”
The victim said the suspect did not say one word to her throughout the assault.
The two other witnesses who testified Friday were a probation officer from the juvenile center and a probation officer from the Michigan Department of Corrections.
The juvenile center employee said the suspect has not been very cooperative and has shown little improvement, despite receiving most of the treatment options the center offers.
The department of corrections employee explained what type of treatment the suspect would receive if he were to be tried as an adult.
In addition to making it clear his client has admitted to committing the assault, the suspect’s attorney also said his client was previously a victim of abuse himself, and the attorney believes it may be contributing to the suspect’s actions.
Judge Mayfield will decide on June 23 if the suspect will be tried as an adult.
If he is – and is convicted of both crimes he’s charged with – he could face a maximum sentence of life in prison.