West Bloomfield man charged in decades-old sexual assaults in Oakland Township, Pennsylvania

By: Mary Beth Almond | C&G Newspapers | Published April 20, 2023




OAKLAND COUNTY — A businessman from West Bloomfeld was recently arraigned on felony charges stemming from two sexual assault cases from over 20 years ago.

Locally, Kurt Alan Rillema, 51, is accused of sexually assaulting a 22-year-old woman at an Oakland Township golf course in 1999.

Through DNA evidence, authorities say, he is also linked to a similar assault in 2000 that happened at a golf course at Penn State University.

The Michigan assault happened on Sept. 6, 1999, at Twin Lakes Golf Course in Oakland Township, according to police. At the time, the victim, who now lives out of state, told deputies an unknown man came through a back employee door while she was working at a food stand on the course, demanded she take her clothes off and then sexually assaulted her.

Although DNA evidence was obtained from the crime, authorities could not identify a suspect at the time, and the DNA evidence was entered into a national DNA database.

In 2004, that evidence was matched with DNA evidence from an alleged sexual assault at a golf course at Penn State on July 27, 2000, when a 19-year-old woman was confronted by a man with a knife while she was jogging. The man allegedly held a knife to her neck and sexually assaulted her, according to reports.

At that time, authorities in Pennsylvania also had DNA evidence but could not find a matching suspect. That DNA evidence was also entered into a federal database.

Although the evidence in Pennsylvania was later destroyed under state law, the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said the evidence in Oakland County was preserved, which helped solve the case.

In July 2021, Oakland County officials and Penn State police reopened the case in the hopes that a genealogical DNA approach would help uncover a suspect.  They submitted the DNA and evidence to a third-party lab for genetic genealogy testing, which traced back to the 1700s. In 2023, authorities were able to narrow the suspect down to one of three brothers. Rillema, the owner of a construction company, became the prime suspect, and authorities said his DNA matched evidence in both cases.

Rillema was arraigned April 18 in 52-3 District Court in Rochester Hills on charges of first-degree and second-degree felony criminal sexual conduct. A conviction on first-degree criminal sexual conduct carries up to life in prison, while the lesser charge carries up to 15 years in prison. Magistrate Marie Soma ordered Rillema be held without bond in the Oakland County Jail until a probable cause conference April 27, which was after press time.

In a statement, Oakland County Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard said victims of violent crimes, like rape, “can never forget that terrible moment.”

“It is incumbent on us to never give up on finding perpetrators of these crimes and bring them to justice. With new technology and investigative capabilities, sometimes we can close cases that have been open for years if not decades. That is what happened in this case. We will never give up,” he said.

Authorities were not sure when Rillema would be extradited to Pennsylvania face the charges from the incident at Penn State — which include felony counts of rape, sexual assault and aggravated indecent assault, and misdemeanor counts of indecent assault, unlawful restraint, simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.

Rillema’s attorney, Deanna Kelley, said she is still in the process of receiving all of the paperwork for the case but said she had one comment to share.

“There are two sides to every story, and my client is looking forward to telling his in court,” she said.