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157176 - People v James Lee

The People of the State of Michigan,


Ana Quiroz





(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)



(Wayne – Cox, K.)


James Lee,


Jason Eggert





Defendant was the legal guardian of his 15-year-old, developmentally delayed nephew. He admitted permitting his live-in boyfriend to sexually penetrate his ward on two occasions because he believed it was consensual. Defendant was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and second-degree child abuse. At trial, the prosecution’s theory was that defendant left his ward in his boyfriend’s unsupervised care, knowing that his boyfriend was likely to engage in sexual penetration of his ward. The ward provided a conflicting account of the two instances of sex between himself and defendant’s boyfriend, but he denied that the sex was consensual. A jury acquitted defendant of the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge, but convicted him of second-degree child abuse, MCL 750.136b(3)(b). The trial court sentenced defendant to serve a term of probation. The Court of Appeals reversed defendant’s conviction in an unpublished decision, relying on People v Murphy, 321 Mich App 355 (2018), for the proposition that the failure to protect is not an affirmative act for the purposes of second-degree child abuse. The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the prosecution’s application for leave to appeal to address whether there is sufficient evidence for a rational trier of fact to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that defendant committed an “act,” as that term is used in MCL 750.136b(3)(b).  The case will be argued at the same session of the Court as People of MI v Kelli Marie Worth-McBride, Docket No. 156430. ​