Former Michigan State University football players Donnie Corley Jr., Demetric Vance and Josh King were sentenced Wednesday in a sexual assault case.
All three pleaded guilty to seduction charges in exchange for the dismissal of criminal sexual conduct charges. The seduction charge is a not a sexual assault charge.
Judge Rosemarie Aquilina gave equal sentencing to all three men. She granted the men HYTA, probation for 36 months, treatment for being sex offenders, and individual and group therapy, along with cognitive therapy. In addition, each one has to perform 100 hours of community service.
Their guilty pleas were accepted in April by Judge Rosemarie Aquilina in Ingham County Circuit Court.
Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA) is a program which allows young adults to keep criminal convictions off their public record. All three originally faced third-degree criminal sexual conduct charges that could have landed them 15 years in prison. King also faced a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge that carried a possible life sentence.
The trio was accused of raping a woman in a bathroom during a party in January 2017 at an apartment on the East Lansing campus. They were kicked off the team during a police investigation into the incident and no longer are enrolled at the university.
Here is a long statement from Ingham County Prosecutor Carol A. Siemon:
"When I began receiving media requests earlier today, I was at an event commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. This anniversary is a reminder not only of how much has changed, but also in how much of his cause remains undone. Dr. King said that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. But he didn’t mean that it happens automatically or that it doesn’t require us to work and change the system.
"We must have a legal framework that allows us to treat the facts of each criminal case proportionately, which the current laws sometimes make difficult. For cases that are submitted for our review, we look at multiple factors to try to craft an outcome that reflects the facts of the individual event.
"The use of “seducing and debauching an unmarried female” as a plea is one that prosecutors have used consistently, but infrequently in the State of Michigan. The law itself is archaic and while the statute itself is valid, it certainly was originally enacted in a bygone era.
"The plea to seduction is a tool that we have as prosecutors, but it is an imperfect tool. It allows the criminal justice system to acknowledge the victim, and it provides an incentive for that offender to plea, in particular because it’s not an offense that requires that they register as a sex offender.
"The sex offender registry is a blunt instrument that I believe needs to be reformed and streamlined so that law enforcement can make better use of the information. It would be more effective as a law enforcement tool to keep the public safe if it targeted the cases that are most likely to result in recidivism – child abuse and child sexual assault, for example, or serial rapists.
"The sex offender registry is just one example of the types of cases where we have laws that are well-intentioned, but go too far from their original intent – and don’t allow our courts to provide a proportionate response. We have seen people sentenced to a 40 year maximum sentence over one gram of cocaine or parents who are charged with child neglect for letting their kids walk home from the park. In the recent cases of school threats and bomb threats, for example, we’re working to create a proportionate response that gives us the legal tools and range of options that addresses the individual situation.
"In any case of domestic or sexual violence, we believe that it’s just to not only consult with the victim, but to create a real consensus with that victim, whenever possible, about the resolution of their case. I’m not able to comment about any case that’s sealed under YTA, but I can confirm that we consult with the victims/survivors in all cases of this sensitive nature.
"The Holmes Youthful Training Act (YTA) is another imperfect tool that is available to prosecutors, defendants, and the courts. We know that the brain is still developing until a person is in their mid-twenties, yet in all too many cases, we have seen young persons incarcerated offenses, for decades, if not life – and burdened with a felony conviction. YTA is a tool that can be used to stem the epidemic of mass incarceration and create sentencing reforms that handle each case in an appropriate manner.
"Under Michigan law, prosecutors have a great deal of discretion in the sanction that each offender receives. Prosecutors decide whether to issue charges, and if so, often have multiple options. Once a case is charged, pleas can be offered at the prosecutor’s discretion. It’s my belief that prosecutors can work to reform the system from within.
"At an early age, children are taught to recite the promise of America: “Liberty and justice for all.” If they have to say it, then we have to do it – Do our best to provide justice to all, and use the law to do what we should do, not just what we can do."