Sexual assault trial continues today in Delta County

ESCANABA – Testimony continues today during day two of the trial of an Escanaba man accused of sexually assaulting a woman in Wells Township last year.

Dustin Anthony Menard, 27, was arrested in September in connection with the alleged assault on June 9. The victim was 24 years old, not a minor as previously reported.

Menard is charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct by force or coercion, each a 15-year felony, and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct by force or coercion, a two-year high-court misdemeanor.

A third-offense habitual offender notice is also attached to the charges, upping the maximum sentencings.

Menard’s trial began Tuesday and is scheduled to continue into Thursday in Delta County Circuit Court presided over by Judge Stephen Davis.

Tuesday’s proceedings began with juror selection. Five women and seven men make up the jury which heard opening statements from the prosecution and the defense.

Assistant Prosecutor Philip Strom told jurors, “This case is about her right to say no.” He said there was forced sexual penetration and forced sexual touching during the incident. Strom asked the jury to find the defendant guilty on all three counts.

Defense Attorney Don LeMire asked the jury to “keep an open mind” as testimony is given on what he described as a “he said she said” situation. LeMire said his client said the sexual relationship was consensual. The attorney added there was “no resistance whatsoever” from the victim.

The victim was the first witness to testify on Tuesday. She was questioned about her past contacts with Menard including text messages and sexual images they had exchanged prior to June 9. She knew the defendant because he had been her brother’s roommate, she said.

When questioned about what happened on the night of the alleged assault, the victim testified she rode with Menard to a bonfire held in honor of a deceased friend of his. When he drove her back to her car later that night, she said he sexually assaulted her when she attempted to unlock her car.

The victim also told the court that while he was sexually assaulting her she tried to push him away and she became hysterical and told him to stop.

The victim reported the incident to police and gave a statement to the Delta County Sheriff’s Department. She was also examined at the local hospital where she was seen by a nurse specially-trained in trauma and sexual assault victims. The nurse testified Tuesday afternoon.

Following a lengthy investigation into the incident last year, Menard was arrested on Sept. 9 and lodged in the county jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

Charges against Menard were authorized in district court where records were suppressed to the public and the media. The case was open to the public once the charges were bound over to circuit court.

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Jenny Lancour, (906) 786-2021, ext. 143, jlancour@dailypress.net