Fire and Police Reports
By Annette Christie
In April 2016, Berrien County Sheriff Paul Bailey confirmed that an investigation was conducted in 2015 into reported misconduct by some of his male jail workers and some female inmates. Bailey said there was no evidence of any alleged misconduct occurring inside the Berrien County Jail with regard to those named in the lawsuit. Bailey stated that three of the four named in a lawsuit filed this spring by 10 women, are no longer employed with his department and they left due to their off-duty misconduct. Bailey stated that the Berrien County Sheriff’s Office denies any wrongdoing or prior knowledge of any of the alleged misconduct. “All Berrien County Sheriff’s Office employees are held to a high standard and we will continue to serve the residents of Berrien County with the highest degree of professionalism and integrity,” Bailey said. On July 27, 2016 Berrien County Prosecutor Mike Sepic reported that the investigation into the alleged allegations of department and criminal law violations by jail personnel at the Berrien County Jail were complete and confirmed that he received those reports and that they have been reviewed. The reports included interviews of at least 15 former female inmates that involved four particular deputies. The deputies were alleged to have improper relations with the inmates and implied criminal sexual conduct with a prisoner or probationer and prostitution offenses.
The first deputy was alleged to have had sexual contact or a sexual relationship with two women who had previously been incarcerated at the Berrien County Jail. It is alleged that he met these women as a result of his employment with Berrien County and pursued contact with them following their release from jail. The contact with the first woman evolved into sexual contact up to and including multiple occasions of sexual intercourse. It is also alleged that on multiple occasions, the deputy paid the woman for sexual favors. This conduct is alleged to have occurred over a period of years beginning in 2010. While this woman did speak to detectives, she has not made herself available to the Prosecutor’s Office despite multiple attempts to contact her. Contact with the Prosecutor’s Office prior to authorization of charges is common when allegation of criminal sexual conduct is involved. Without confirmation of the witness’ statement and their willingness to appear and participate in prosecution, the Berrien County Prosecutor’s Office has declined to authorize charges at this time. Prosecutor Mike Sepic said that even with the presence of some corroborating evidence, cases of this nature rely heavily upon the cooperation and testimony of the alleged victim. Allegations with regard to the second woman involved Deputy 1 depositing money into her prison account while she was incarcerated in a state prison facility; sexually illicit discussions using a state prison telephone service; and upon her release, funding a shopping trip before initiating sexual contact. These allegations date back to 2014. In determining whether this behavior constituted a crime, the Prosecutor’s Office considered the alleged victim’s prisoner/probationer status, as well as any possible coercion due to the nature of Deputy 1’s position. At the relevant times, based upon the victim’s interview, Deputy 1 could not be found to be coercing the woman based upon his position. At those times, the woman was not on probation nor incarcerated in a facility where Deputy 1 was in a position of authority. During the last alleged contact, the woman rebuffed the sexual advance of Deputy 1 and their contact ended. Therefore, no charges have been filed against Deputy 1 for this contact. A third woman, named in a Federal lawsuit against the deputy, has not reported any allegations of sexual misconduct by any deputy to police investigators. None of the conduct involving Deputy 1 is alleged to have occurred within the Berrien County Jail. At this time, he is no longer employed with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputy 2 was alleged to have sought and maintained contact with multiple adult women who had been incarcerated at the Berrien County Jail and who he met through his employment there. He is alleged to have sought contact with these women via Facebook, text messaging, telephone calls, and through other inmates. The length of contact with these women varied with the longest being approximately 10 years. Although interviews of these women resulted in disclosure of discussions of a sexual nature with Deputy 2, only one woman disclosed actual sexual contact or any offer of payment for sexual contact. With regard to the woman who is alleging sexual contact, repeated interviews during the police investigation did not reveal information of a sufficiently credible nature on which to base criminal charges. No charges involving any other women have been filed against Deputy 2 because there was no disclosure of sexual contact in the jail itself, solicitation of sexual contact for money or of coerced sexual contact due to Deputy 2’s position in the jail. None of the conduct involving Deputy 2 is alleged to have occurred within the Berrien County Jail. At this time, Deputy 2 is no longer employed with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputy 3 was alleged to have met with a woman at a location away from the jail who he originally came into contact with while she was an inmate at the Berrien County Jail and he was a jail deputy. As there were no allegations of sexual contact within the jail or otherwise, or solicitation of sexual contact for money; no charges have been authorized. Deputy 3 is still employed with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department.
Deputy 4 was alleged to have met with two women away from the jail following their incarceration at the Berrien County Jail. The first woman is one he is alleged to have known prior to her incarceration at the Berrien County Jail. It is alleged that following periods of incarceration at the jail, he had contact with her in 2015 by responding to her backpage.com advertisement for companionship. Deputy 4 arranged a meeting for the purpose of engaging her services as a prostitute; however, the investigation revealed no actual sexual conduct occurred. Therefore, the deputy was charged with offering to engage the services of another for the purpose of prostitution by payment of money pursuant to MCL 750.449a. This offense is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days in jail and/or a fine of $500. The witness will not be charged with a criminal offense. Deputy 4 is Keegan Oscar Trial, 23, of Eau Claire, Michigan. He is no longer employed with the Berrien County Sheriff’s Department. On July 27, 2016, Trail appeared in court and was arraigned on a warrant alleging one count under the statute as noted above. Trail pled no contest. He was sentenced to fines and costs in the amount of $505 and was ordered to perform 40 hours of community service. The second woman was one Trial is alleged to have initially come into contact with during her incarceration at the Berrien County Jail while he was a deputy. Following her release, Trial allegedly made contact with her via Facebook where they made arrangements to see each other. It is alleged that this led to sexual intercourse in exchange for money in June 2014. His alleged conduct during this incident meets the elements of engaging the services of another for the purpose of prostitution by payment of money. Therefore, the deputy could have been charged under the same statute; however, the charge will not be pursued as a result of a plea agreement. The witness will not be charged with a criminal offense. None of the conduct of Trail is alleged to have occurred in the Berrien County Jail. The incarcerations of most, if not all, of the women involved were related to drug addiction. Their statements to investigators described a feeling of vulnerability to the alleged advances from the deputies due to their continued addiction.
Coloma Township Police activity
While on patrol, a Coloma Township Police Officer stopped a vehicle on Wilson St. near Park St. in the City of Coloma for failure to dim bright lights on July 21. The driver, a 43-year old South Haven man, was found to have three valid arrest warrants. The subject was lodged at the Berrien County Jail. On July 20, the Coloma Township Police Department responded to a priority call of a domestic violence incident in the 4900 block of Carmody Rd. in Coloma Township. After securing the scene officers conducted an investigation. Officers subsequently arrested a 28-year old Coloma woman on domestic violence related charges. The female subject was lodged at the Berrien County Jail.
Hartford Fire Chief Robbie Harting
The Hartford Fire Department responded to 13 calls for service in the month of July including the following: Eight medical assists; two vehicle accidents; two carbon dioxide alarms; and one call which was cancelled enroot.
Mike and Gyl Hondorp celebrate 50th wedding anniversary
Mike and Gyl (Johnson) Hondorp recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in Chicago with family and friends. The Hondorps were married August 6, 1966, at the Coloma United Methodist Church. Gyl, a former national baton twirling champion from Coloma, twirled for 13 years with the Coloma High School Band. She graduated with the class of 1960 and went on to twirl 4 more years as featured twirler and head majorette with the Western Michigan University Marching Band. Upon graduation, Gyl continued her 33-year twirling career as coach, judge, and contest and pageant director. In 2006, Gyl was inducted into the National Baton Twirling Hall of Fame. In addition, Gyl also had a 30-year career in speech-language pathology. She serviced the public school population, including pre-school and infant toddler programs. Mike is a life-long resident of Lakeview. He was a teacher, coach, assistant principal, athletic director, and high school principal (24 years) with the Lakeview Community Schools. He serviced Lakeview High School for a total of 39 years before retirement in 2004. Both Mike and Gyl hold master’s degrees from Central Michigan University. The Hondorps currently reside in Lakeview. They have 2 sons Mikel and Kyle (Kelly) Hondorp; and grandson, Ricky Harvey.
Courtney Marie Pomeroy and Christopher Paul Cook are planning a September 3, 2016 wedding. Pomeroy, the daughter of David and Susan Pomeroy of Saint Clair Shores, MI, graduated from Saint Clair Shores Lake Shore High School and Adrian College with a bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. While at Adrian College, she was a member of the women’s soccer team and then went on to earn her Master of Arts degree at Western Michigan University. Courtney is currently employed at Adrian College. Her fiancé, the son of Fred and Lisa Cook of Hartford, graduated from Hartford High School and Adrian College with a bachelor’s degree in Education. While at Adrian College, he was a member of the football team and then went on to earn his Master of Science degree at Concordia University Ann Arbor. Chris is currently employed at Adrian College. Courtney and Chris met while the two of them were students at Adrian College. Both of them were four-year letter winners, All-MIAA performers and team captains of the women’s soccer team and football team respectively.