Woman who was sexually assaulted reflects on judicial system, offender’s sentence

By: Mike Koury | Woodward Talk | Published June 24, 2019

 Jeffrey Felch

Jeffrey Felch

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FERNDALE — Last week, a Ferndale man was sentenced for sexually assaulting a woman he had met through a dating app last year.

The woman who was assaulted spoke to the Woodward Talk about what happened last year, and her reaction to the legal proceedings that followed.

Jeffrey Felch, 32, was sentenced to one year in jail — with 110 days credited for time spent in jail thus far — on June 18 for sexually assaulting a woman he had met on Tinder. He pleaded no contest May 13 to two charges: assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder, and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. Other charges were dismissed as a result of the plea.

Felch also was sentenced to five years of probation, and he must register as a sex offender, have no contact with the woman, and submit to substance abuse treatment and drug testing.

The crime dates back to July 19 of last year. On that night, he met with the woman, who spoke to the Talk under the condition of anonymity.

The woman said she talked to Felch on the phone for almost an hour before meeting him. She told a friend beforehand that she was going to meet this man. From what she understood from their talk, the woman thought they were going to be meeting at a restaurant. Instead, it was a party store.

“He was very odd-acting, and I texted my friend as soon as I met (him) something was wrong,” she said.

The woman, who was new to the area and hadn’t lived in Michigan that long, said Felch asked if she wanted to go for a walk. She said yes, but planned to leave afterward.

“He kind of walked me in circles around the neighborhood — it felt like to get me lost,” she said.

The walk led to Felch’s house, which the woman had no idea that it would. She said Felch brought her inside, where she said that she saw marijuana growing “everywhere” in the home and that his bed was in the living room.

The woman tried to use her phone to send her location to a friend, which Felch must have seen, she said.

“My back was to him, and that’s when he immediately started strangling me, when he saw that happening,” she recounted. “From there, I’m kind of fuzzy on stuff. When they did my rape kit, they said he cut off oxygen to my brain.”

When Felch stopped “for a second,” the woman used the opportunity to escape and run out the door. She said Felch followed after her, but he stopped when he saw that she was on the phone. The woman would file a police report the next day.

Ferndale police and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office’s Fugitive Apprehension Team were able to arrest Felch in the parking lot where he was working, Google in Farmington Hills, July 30. They staked out the office until they were able to apprehend him heading out.

Approximately a year later, the woman said that the court process has been awful, as she felt she wasn’t handling it well mentally with the case getting moved back constantly after motions kept getting filed.

She also has been dealing with the mental stress that the sexual assault has caused. She credits the people closest to her with saving her life.

“It’s been really difficult. In January, I was pretty suicidal and received treatment, and I really haven’t told a lot of people, but the people that know, I’ve received a lot of support from,” she said. “I reached out to people, so that pretty much saved my life because I was not doing well.”

After the defense offered a plea deal and the prosecution countered, a deal was accepted, she said.

“I didn’t want to go to trial because his lawyer was pretty aggressive, and I didn’t want to have to be on the stand for hours and going over that,” she said.

On Felch’s one-year jail time with time served, she said she wasn’t happy with the sentence.

“My prosecutor was honest from the beginning, that if he was found guilty on everything, it would only be about three years in prison,” she said. “So from the beginning, I was not happy with that. It made it difficult and questioned whether or not it was worth even reporting, because it just kind of felt like justice wasn’t really served for that short period of time.”

“I was very happy with my prosecutor, but definitely not the process,” she continued. “His charge was — they called it assault less than murder — so I definitely don’t think that a year for a violent crime is acceptable for what happened.”

While she was happy that Felch was sentenced to five years of probation, she wanted to see him receive time in prison, not jail.

“I said in my impact statement that it’s mostly just my fear of what he can do once he’s out,” she said. “It’s not that long of a sentence.”

Reflecting on the night of July 19, the woman said she followed all the “standing rules” of meeting someone off a dating app, like meeting them in public and telling her friend what she’s doing. And it still happened.

“I felt like what he did was routine,” she said. “He seemed like he had a plan.”

Kimberly W. Stout, Felch’s attorney, could not be reached for comment by press time.

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