Two teens charged with sexual assault in Mecosta County reach plea agreement, records sealed

BIG RAPIDS — Two Mecosta County teens charged with sexually assaulting two girls have had their cases sealed after entering into plea agreements.

Patrick Kettner, 19, and Douglas Robinson, 19, appeared in Mecosta County’s 49th Circuit Court on Monday for settlement conferences in their cases. The two cases have been sealed and are not available to the public because some laws in Michigan seal cases of young offenders.

Patrick Kettner

Patrick Kettner

Under a Michigan law called the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act (HYTA), an offender may be able to avoid having a criminal conviction on their record, as long as the offender and their case meets certain requirements. HYTA was enacted with the understanding that 17 to 20 year-olds, who generally do not have the maturity and discipline of adulthood, sometimes commit immature criminal acts, according to authorities.

Because the records are sealed there is no way to confirm if Kettner and Robinson are sentenced to prison or if they are part of the HYTA program.

If the two are in HYTA, as long as they can prove they have stayed out of further trouble and complete the trainee program successfully, then at the end of their successful probationary period, the court will negate their conviction and dismiss the charges against them. All information on all the proceedings in their case stays out of the public record. According to Michigan law, the entire file of their case becomes a nonpublic record while proceedings are deferred and they are on probation and also after an order of discharge and dismissal is entered.

Under HYTA, if a youth is charged with a criminal offense, committed on or after their 17th birthday, but before their 21st birthday, a judge may assign the person to the status of “youthful trainee.” Young offenders cannot be eligible for HYTA if they are charged with a felony for which the maximum punishment is life imprisonment, a major controlled substance offense or a traffic offense, according to the Michigan Legislature Act 175 excerpt of Code of Criminal Procedure.

To be eligible, an offender also must plead guilty in order for the judge to even consider placing a person in the youthful trainee program, which was intended to be only for people who demonstrate some measure of responsibility for their actions. In most cases where HYTA trainee status is granted there is no prison time ordered.

In September the Pioneer reported that Kettner waived his preliminary hearing scheduled in Mecosta County’s 77th District Court.

Douglas Floyd Robinson

Douglas Floyd Robinson

At the time, Kettner was charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct stemming from allegations he assaulted a 15-year-old girl on May 24 during a party at his home in Green Township.

Before he could be picked up by police on the charges, Kettner flew to Guam shortly after the alleged assault. He was arraigned on the charges in June, after being extradited back to the United States.

Robinson also faced charges in September of one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with an accomplice, one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of assault with intent to commit second-degree criminal sexual conduct, with two teenage girls (one of whom was also allegedly assaulted by Kettner) at the same party in Green Township.

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Posted by Lonnie Allen

Lonnie is the Pioneer's city/county reporter. He also coordinates the Gardens and Growers page. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8328 or by e-mail at lallen@pioneergroup.com.

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