Attorneys debate versions of events in Lincoln rape case

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published February 9, 2018


WARREN — A 15-year-old freshman at Lincoln High School took the stand in a Warren courtroom Feb. 8 and told the court she was sexually assaulted by a fellow student in a stairwell after school in late November.

The girl, who will not be identified due to her age and the nature of the alleged assault, said she was slammed to the ground and violated by a 14-year-old male student, now being held without bond in the Macomb County Juvenile Detention Center after the probable cause hearing before 37th District Court Judge John Chmura.

The suspect was charged as an adult in December after an investigation by the Warren Police Department centered on evidence including the victim’s account of the events and surveillance video footage that depicts what investigators called a “heinous, egregious assault” that took place over a 25-minute span on Nov. 28.

The victim testified that she knew the suspect but didn’t share classes with him. She told the court she was walking to meet her friends and brother after school on the day of the alleged assault, and that she was in a stairwell alone with the suspect, with whom she had chatted earlier in the day.

It was revealed during testimony that they kissed during the encounter, but the victim said she did not consent to a sexual act.  

Asked by Macomb County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Suzanna Shkreli to describe the assault, the girl said, “I don’t want to talk about that.” After she was asked again, she later added, “He started touching on me, and I didn’t like that.” When she was asked to describe where the suspect touched her, she said, “Everywhere he wasn’t supposed to.”

The girl testified that she tried unsuccessfully to keep the suspect from pulling her pants down, but that he kept “punching and slapping” her hand. She said she eventually stopped struggling.

“I gave up because it was already happening. What else could I do?” she said.

During cross-examination, defense attorney Kenneth Vernier asked the girl first if she had reviewed the surveillance video of the encounter. He then questioned why she didn’t ask for help when other people were apparently seen close by on the footage. He also asked why she went outside during the encounter and returned to where the suspect was.

“I’m just trying to figure out at what point did this become non-consensual for you,” Vernier said.

He asked about what he called “playful banter” between the two earlier in the day and later added, “You never called out, ‘Help!’ You never screamed. You never asked for help. You never shouted, ‘No!’ And these people are right in the area, isn’t that correct?

“If you didn’t want any of this to happen, the first time you walked out the door, why didn’t you just walk home? Why did you walk back in to stand there and be with him in that hallway?” Vernier asked.

Warren Police Detective Todd Murray said he viewed the video of the incident during the investigation, and it appeared that the encounter turned into a criminal act when the suspect pulled the victim to the ground in a “football-style” takedown.

“When he takes her to the ground, the game changed. At that point in time, she decided she didn’t want (that) anymore,” Murray testified.  

During her closing argument, Shkreli maintained that the sexual act was committed against the victim’s will, regardless of what happened before that.

“She was unequivocal that she did not consent,” Shkreli said.

Based on the testimony presented, Chmura ruled that the teen suspect should stand trial on two of the three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct leveled against him. He’ll also stand trial on one count of unlawful imprisonment. He could face a maximum penalty of life in prison if convicted.

Vernier asked Chmura to set a cash-or-surety bond for his client, but the judge declined and ordered his no-bond status continued.

Shkreli told the court that the suspect has been writing what appear to be lyrics to a rap while in custody that include threats of violence against his accuser.

The suspect will next appear in Macomb County Circuit Court for a hearing on March 5.