Sexual assault case comes to conclusion

ESCANABA – After several court schedule changes during the past year, a Bark River man accused of sexually assaulting a girl was sentenced during a hearing that was suppressed to the public Friday.

Alec Jeffery VanEnkevort, 20, was arrested a year ago on a charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony. A jury trial was scheduled for September 2012 then postponed to January 2013 in Delta County Circuit Court.

Michigan State Police were made aware of the assault on Feb. 7, 2012, when officials from OSF St. Francis Hospital notified the Gladstone Post. After interviewing the female victim at the hospital, police located and apprehended VanEnkevort the following day.

During a preliminary examination in district court last year, a trooper testified VanEnkevort admitted to police he had nonconsensual sex with the girl in Wells Township. VanEnkevort was arrested for third-degree criminal sexual conduct and lodged in the county jail. He was later released after posting a cash bond.

During a motions hearing in circuit court last August, Judge Stephen Davis ruled statements made by the defendant to police could be used in court.

On Jan. 10, VanEnkevort waived his right to have a jury trial and pleaded guilty to one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct by force or coercion. The high-court misdemeanor carries a maximum punishment of two years incarceration and a $500 fine.

During Friday’s suppressed court hearing, VanEnkevort was sentenced under the Holmes Youthful Training Act, also known as HYTA.

Individuals who plead guilty to a crime committed between their 17th and 21st birthdays, may be considered for HYTA status except for life felonies and major controlled substance or traffic offenses.

Under the HYTA program, court records are closed to public inspection. The defendant is assigned the status of a youthful trainee and is not convicted of the crime. Upon completion of all terms set by the judge, the court will dismiss the charge.

If the youthful trainee fails to successfully complete the terms of probation, the judge may terminate HYTA status, enter a conviction, and sentence the defendant.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143,