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Guilty plea in sexual assault case

ESCANABA — Just days before a trial was set to begin, a Rapid River teen who initially faced two sexual assault charges pleaded guilty Thursday to a single charge.

James Michael Greenlund, 19, was originally bound over to circuit court on one count of criminal sexual conduct – first degree and one count of criminal sexual conduct – third degree. The charges stemmed from an incident in August 2018 in Masonville Township.

At a motions hearing earlier this month, the first-degree charge was dismissed, as it hinged on the alleged assault occurring during a felony. Dickinson County Circuit Court Judge Mary Barglind, who has been presiding over this and three other Delta County criminal sexual conduct cases involving codefendants, determined during the hearing that the actions of a codefendant do not constitute a second felony act.

Two other teens faced charges from the incident — Tanner James-Arthur Cannon, 18, and Hunter Grizz Gallagher, 18, both of Gladstone. Gallagher was sentenced to a minimum of 40 months in prison and lifetime sex offender registration for his role in this and another criminal sexual conduct case. Cannon has taken a plea agreement but will not be sentenced until after Greenlund’s sentencing.

At Thursday’s hearing, Greenlund was re-arraigned on the single charge of criminal sexual conduct – third degree, canceling a trial set to begin Tuesday. As part of a plea agreement, Greenlund pleaded guilty to the charge, which carried a maximum sentence of up to 15 years in prison and lifetime sex offender registration.

However, the agreement presented by the defense and accepted by the prosecution could offer Greenlund a significantly lighter sentence. Under the agreement, Greenlund would serve two years in prison with credit for time already served in the Delta County Jail. Following that, Greenlund would have one year of supervised release.

The agreement also includes sentencing under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, commonly referred to as HYTA. The act allows youthful offenders facing certain criminal convictions to avoid permanent marks on their record.

During the hearing Thursday, Greenlund explained the offense to the court.

“On or about August 2018, as I was entering into my senior year, I had consensual intercourse with (the victim), a sophomore in Delta County, when she was 15 years old,” he said.

However, whether or not the act was consensual has been debated since the charges were first brought against Greenlund.

“Given the sentencing agreement for the HYTA, I’m not concerned with his statement that it’s consensual,” said Barglind. “I know facts have been indicated to this court contrary-wise, but I don’t think the statement that it’s consensual will in any way play into the sentencing here, and it does factually establish the requirements of the elements of the offense. I will accept that plea and find that it sets forth all the elements as required.”

Barglind informed Greenlund that the court is not in any way bound to accept the sentencing agreement reached between the defense and the prosecution. A pre-sentence report will be created by the probation and parole agent following an additional investigation of Greenlund by the agent. That report will include a sentencing recommendation for the court.

“If I do not go along with the sentencing agreement, I would give you the right to withdraw your plea, but you need to understand I’m not bound to the sentencing agreement,” said Barglind.

Barglind also noted during the hearing she believed the court would have discretion as to whether or not lifetime sex offender registration would be a term of sentencing if the HYAT was accepted.

Sentencing was scheduled for Dec. 20 at 11 a.m.

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