Sign In

161838 - People v Stephen Michael Bieszka

The People of the State of Michigan,

 

Meredith Beidler

 

Plaintiff-Appellee,

 

v

(Appeal from Ct of Appeals)

 

 

(Allegan – Kengis, R.)

 

Stephen Michael Bieszka,

 

Edwin Hettinger

 

Defendant-Appellant.

 

Summary

The defendant pled guilty to assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct involving sexual penetration and received a probationary sentence.  The defendant was 18 years old and the complainant was 14 years old at the time of the assault.  The defendant filed a petition for exemption from the requirements of the Sex Offenders Registration Act (SORA) under MCL 28.722(w)(iv), which requires a finding by the court that the victim consented to the sexual act.  The trial court denied the petition and the Court of Appeals denied leave to appeal, but the Supreme Court remanded the matter to the trial court for reconsideration of the defendant’s petition and directed the trial court to consider all of the information that was presented at the hearing on the defendant’s petition, including text messages from the complainant.  On remand, the trial court again denied the defendant’s petition for exemption from registering as a sex offender under SORA.  The Court of Appeals affirmed in an unpublished opinion.  The Supreme Court has ordered oral argument on the application to address: (1) whether the trial court clearly erred by determining that the defendant failed to prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the victim consented to the sexual acts at issue; and (2) whether the 14-year-old victim was legally capable of consenting to the sexual acts in any event.  See MCL 750.520d(1)(a) (“A person is guilty of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree if the person engages in sexual penetration with another person and if any of the following circumstances exist . . . (a) That other person is at least 13 years of age and under 16 years of age.”); People v Starks, 473 Mich 227, 230, 235 (2005) (“[C]onsent must be given by one who is legally capable of giving consent to the act,” and “[b]ecause a thirteen-year-old child cannot consent to sexual penetration, consent by such a victim is not a defense to the crime of assault with intent to commit criminal sexual conduct involving sexual penetration.”); cf. MCL 28.722(w)(iv) (“This subparagraph does not apply if the court determines that the victim consented to the conduct constituting the violation, that the victim was at least 13 years of age but less than 16 years of age at the time of the offense, and that the individual is not more than 4 years older than the victim.”).​