Gladstone teen arraigned on criminal sexual conduct charge

ESCANABA — A Gladstone teen was arraigned on criminal sexual conduct charges Wednesday in Delta County Circuit Court.

Hunter Grizz Gallagher, 18, of 3498 21st Rd., was arraigned in two different cases regarding criminal sexual conduct.

Gallagher was officially charged in one case with criminal sexual conduct – first degree (accomplices) and criminal sexual conduct – second degree (accomplices). The charges stems from an alleged incident in August 2018 in Masonville Township. Two other teens are facing charges from this incident.

He was also charged with criminal sexual conduct – first degree (during felony) and criminal sexual conduct – third degree (person 13-15). The charges stem from an alleged incident on June 13, 2017, in Gladstone. Another teen is also facing charges from this incident.

Gallagher chose to “stand mute “ when asked how he would plea, so the court entered a not guilty plea for him.

After the arraignment, Delta County Circuit Court Judge John Economopoulos said in order for the court to remain transparent he disclosed he has a professional and personal friendship with Gallagher’s uncle’s wife.

“It is not uncommon in a rural community for people to know each other,” said Economopoulos. He explained Gallagher’s uncle’s wife is an employee at circuit court, worked with him on his campaign when he ran for the circuit court judgeship and is a friend to himself and his wife.

Economopoulos said for the sake of transparency he thought it was essential for the court to communicate this fact so the attorneys have the option to ask him to step aside from the case.

Economopoulos said he does not believe this will cause a problem of bias on his part. But he said he does need to look at a new brief Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej, who is prosecuting the case, filed late Tuesday night and then really think his decision over.

“Looking at the business relationship, professional relationship that my court has with the defendant’s uncle’s wife, the personal relationship that my wife and I have with her — historically. The issue for me to resolve is does this prohibit me from being able to judge in this case. I do not believe so. I don’t hedge in saying that I do not believe so. It is something up until Mr. Kolodziej filed a brief with some additional information I did not feel that it was an issue that would necessarily prohibit me from being able to preside over the case. But that is not a decision for me to make,” Economopoulos said.

Stupak said at this time he is not asking for Economopoulos to step down, but also wants time to go over the new information presented in the new brief before making his decision.

Kolodziej said he is also not at this time asking for Economopoulos to no longer handle the cases involving Gallagher.

The hearing is scheduled to reconvene on Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m.

A pre-trial scheduling and bond modification hearing will also be scheduled at the Feb. 13 hearing.