Teen charged as adult for alleged rape at Lincoln High School

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published December 6, 2017

WARREN — A freshman at Lincoln High School has been charged as an adult with three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of unlawful imprisonment for the alleged rape of a fellow student at the school after class hours late last month.

Appearing before 37th District Court Judge John Chmura, Warren detectives and Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brian Kolodziej said the charges against the 14-year-old male student stem from an investigation into an alleged “heinous, egregious assault” reportedly caught on surveillance video. The alleged assault took place over a span of more than 25 minutes in a stairwell at the school sometime after classes ended on Nov. 28.

“I can tell you we will be presenting evidence that involves surveillance video of the incident. It’s a heinous, egregious incident that involves over 25 minutes of the assault where the defendant is wrestling with the female victim, a student, in a stairwell at the school, where he is able to overcome her,” Kolodziej told the judge. “This happened in broad daylight in a corridor of the school.”

Kolodziej told Chmura the teen fled on foot to a house in the neighborhood, where investigators believe he likely discarded evidence, after he was asked to return to the school to give a statement about the allegations. He said the investigation also revealed information about another alleged incident at the school roughly two weeks prior involving another student. Kolodziej said that incident may have involved different elements, including consent, but that the female student involved was also a minor.

The prosecutor told the court that the suspect is also on felony probation for an unrelated juvenile matter.

“This shows his brazen nature and his willingness to continue to violate other students at the school and break the law,” Kolodziej said.

Warren Police Commissioner William Dwyer said the department presented a request to the office of Macomb County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Smith seeking a four-count warrant charging the teen as an adult, based on the findings of the investigation.

“This was a violent, vicious attack on a female student. It was brutal, heinous, monstrous and shocking to veteran law enforcement detectives in Warren,” Dwyer said. “The entire Warren Police Department extends its sympathy and support for the victim and her family.”

Dwyer said school officials have fully cooperated with the investigation and that the surveillance video was discovered when it was reviewed at the request of police, after the incident was reported.

Van Dyke Public Schools Superintendent Piper Bognar released a statement Dec. 6 on the district’s website about the charges.

In the statement, Bognar said the “horrific criminal act” that occurred after hours was being dealt with by law enforcement, and the district will move forward “by being ever-vigilant.” She added that school officials will continue to evaluate the district’s security and procedures for after-hours activities and access to facilities.

“I sincerely hope you know from being in the district that our teachers, staff and administrators come to work each day in hopes that your children are safe and secure, and with the goal that you can be confident of this while they are with us,” Bognar stated. “When situations arise that threaten that environment, we do all we can to act quickly and ensure that policies, procedures and laws are upheld to make Van Dyke Public Schools the absolute best environment for our students.

“Criminal acts will not be tolerated in our district, and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement officers and agencies to be sure that all of our students and staff are safe while they are with us,” she continued. “We strive to react minute-to-minute and to be proactive in our daily work. When building staff are alerted to a situation, they respond immediately and address it appropriately. Our relationship with the Warren Police Department allows for a fast response and proper handling regarding acts of this nature.”

Bognar later released a follow-up statement to the media.

“We are horrified and saddened by this situation,” she stated. “The school personnel responded swiftly, and we are continuing to work with the Warren Police Department and related law enforcement authorities.

“We are doing all we can for the victim and the family. We are limited in what we can share due to privacy concerns, but rest assured that the safety of our students is always our No. 1 concern. We will continue to act in the best interest of the school community.”

The suspect appeared in court for arraignment wearing a green uniform issued by the Macomb County Juvenile Detention Center. He was flanked by defense attorney Ken Vernier, who declined to comment on the case after the hearing.

Vernier did ask the judge to consider a cash-or-surety bond that could allow the potential release of his client before his next scheduled court appearance on Dec. 14, but Chmura denied the request and ordered the teen remanded in juvenile detention.

First-degree criminal sexual conduct carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Staff Writer Maria Allard contributed to this report.