Free Soil man pleads no contest to CSC with 13-year-old girl.

November 12, 2014
Joseph Cook, left, with his attorney, Gary Sprinstead.

Joseph Cook, left, with his attorney, Gary Sprinstead.

By Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

LUDINGTON — A 22-year-old Free Soil man pleaded no contest in 51st Circuit Court today for having sexual relations with a 13-year-old girl. Joseph Michael Cook, of 8010 N. Custer Rd., was arrested Aug. 20 by Mason County Sheriff’s Office and charge with three counts of criminal sexual conduct third degree, each crime punishable by 15 years in prison.

There are various stipulations to charge a person with CSC third degree, but in this case it was because the victim was at least 13-years-old and under 16-years-old. Pleading no contest means the defendant admits no guilt for the crime but the court can determine the punishment.

Cook accepted a sentencing agreement with Mason County Prosecuting Attorney Paul Spaniola for the two charges of third degree be dropped in exchange for one count of attempted CSC second degree.

CSC second degree also involves various stipulations but in this case is also because the victim was between 13 and 16, however CSC second degree only alleges sexual contact rather than penetration. CSC second degree is punishable by up to five years confinement, however, Cook was offered a sentence of one year in the Mason County Jail, serving no more than six months up front, along with having no contact with the victim or her family.

In a no contest plea, the court is allowed to establish fact finding based on police report transcripts. Judge Richard Cooper read from the police reports:

He stated that Cook approached Mason County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Dice on March 18, 2014 indicating that “he wanted to talk to the officer. He expressed he had been hugging and kissing somebody and felt he should tell the police about it.” Sheriff’s Detective Shayne Eskew and Ludington Police Officer Aaron Saylor also became involved in the case, Cooper said.

“The defendant pointed out to (Det. Eskew) that he had been allowed to stay in the home of the victim off and on during the year 2013 and that the victim’s mother had become strongly angered with the defendant and had accused him of having sex with her daughter.”

Cooper said Cook had been presented with a phone containing text messages between him and the victim but denied responsibility. The victim told police that she and Cook had sex on four occasions, twice in the defendant’s car on West Johnson Road at the dead-end by the airport, once at her house and once at the home of a relative of the defendant’s.

“Based upon the information provided by the victim, the court finds there is a basis for the charges of CSC in the third degree and that there were three, maybe four, incidents,” Cooper said.

Cook will be sentenced on Dec. 16 at 3 p.m.

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