Defendant testifies today in sexual assault case

ESCANABA – An Escanaba man accused of sexually assaulting a woman last year testified today on his own behalf during day three of his jury trial in Delta County Circuit Court.

Dustin Anthony Menard, 27, is charged with sexually assaulting a 24-year-old female friend on June 9, 2013, in Wells Township.

Following an investigation by police, Menard was arrested three months later and 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. He is also being tried as a third-offense habitual offender.

Witness testimony began Tuesday with the victim taking the stand. A registered nurse who administered the “rape kit” on the victim at the local hospital also testified.

Wednesday’s witnesses included the victim’s fiance, a psychiatrist, and two Delta County sheriff’s deputies. Menard took the stand late in the afternoon and continued his testimony this morning. The jury will begin deliberations today.

During Wednesday’s testimony of the deputy in charge of the investigation, the five-woman, seven-man jury viewed police video of Menard being questioned at Escanaba Pubic Safety on the day of the incident.

After being read his Miranda rights that day, Menard told police about the night of the alleged assault when he and the victim went to a bonfire together and he drove her back to her car. He told the deputy he never did anything wrong and never had intercourse with her.

“We didn’t have sex,” he said in the police video. “I never had sex with her.”

The deputy testified that during a conversation with Menard at his apartment on June 20, the defendant said he had consensual sex with the victim on the hood of her car on June 9.

During questioning on the witness stand Wednesday, Menard explained how he and the victim had dated for a couple months when they were young teens; after years of not seeing each other, they ran across one another at a local grocery store in May 2013.

Menard testified they started exchanging text messages and later sent each other photographs of their private body parts. The victim testified Tuesday the pictures she sent him were from a website.

During the attorneys’ opening statements on Tuesday, Assistant Prosecutor Philip Strom told jurors the case is about the victim’s right to say no. Strom added there was “forced sexual penetration and forced sexual touching” during the incident.

Defense Attorney Don LeMire described the trial as a “he said she said” case, saying his client said the sexual relationship was consensual and there was “no resistance whatsoever” from the victim.

Menard remains lodged in the county jail in lieu of a $25,000 bond.

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