Jury trial begins for former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy charged with criminal sexual conduct
MENOMINEE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - A jury trial began Monday morning for former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Helfert.
As of 3 p.m. Monday afternoon, jury selection was still ongoing. The trial is scheduled to last five days.
Helfert is on trial in Menominee County Circuit Court for one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a weapon.
He was originally scheduled to stand trial for two separate cases originally filed in May 2022: one in which he was charged with three felonies— second-degree criminal sexual conduct with a weapon, third-degree criminal sexual conduct, and third-degree criminal sexual conduct (student)— and one in which he was charged with one felony count of child sexually abusive activity. However, the three other charges were dismissed.
In an email, Rogg said: “As I explained publicly and in open court at the May 25, 2023 sentencing hearing... there have been numerous ‘problems’ with these cases, including statute of limitation issues... and ex post facto prohibitions because the alleged conduct preceded the effective date of the law prohibiting it (the U.S. Constitution, Art. 1 § 10, prohibits states from passing or enforcing laws which apply retroactively, or ex post facto); a number of adverse judicial rulings; witness fragility and reluctance; as well as other nuances and limitations.”
The trial comes after Menominee County Circuit Court Judge Mary Barglind chose during a May 25 sentencing hearing to go against a Dec. 14 plea agreement. That plea agreement, reached by Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg and Helfert’s defense attorney Trenton Stupak, stipulated a jail sentence of 25 months and five years of probation, plus an agreement to “end the current and future trials.”
Barglind said the decision was reached in part because the presentence report from 2020 had information the court was not previously familiar with at the time of the plea agreement, namely the similarities between the two cases, including the alleged grooming of victims.
The trial is scheduled to continue Tuesday at 9 a.m. TV6 will provide updates throughout the trial.
Last published May 25, 2023
Former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy Brian Helfert is headed to trial after withdrawing his plea at a sentencing hearing Thursday.
The sentencing hearing was for a case in which Helfert had entered a plea agreement on Dec. 14 for one count of criminal sexual conduct- intent to commit sexual penetration. He pled “no contest.”
During that Dec. 14 plea hearing, the defense and prosecution came to a plea agreement “ending the current and future trials.” Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg said as part of that agreement, Helfert would serve a total of 25 months in jail, five years of probation and be on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life.
However, Menominee County Circuit Court Judge Mary Barglind opened the Thursday sentencing hearing saying, “The court has decided and I have previously indicated to council that I would be going along with the recommendation in this case... which was not to go along with the sentencing agreement.”
When given the opportunity to speak, Helfert’s defense attorney Trenton Stupak argued that sentencing Helfert according to the previously agreed upon plea agreement was most appropriate for the case and the justice system.
“A plea agreement reached on the second day of trial is for the attorneys to know what is best,” Stupak said. “Mr. Rogg, myself, went over the pros and cons, the positives and negatives, and we came to an agreement that we believe best reached the goal of the justice system... for the alleged victims of the crimes and for the accused of the goals... On behalf of Mr. Helfert, I request the court continues its consent of what has been reached, because nothing has changed... What was known on Dec. 13 is what is known on May 25th.”
Stupak also argued that outside pressure to deviate from the sentencing agreement plaid a role in the case. He cited two letters received by the court— one from a prospective juror and one from an anonymous sender — asking that the court impose a more severe sentence.
Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg also defended his actions in reaching a plea agreement with Helfert and Stupak in December.
“‘People who are not prepared to do unpopular things are not prepared to do be ministers in times of stress’,” Rogg said, quoting Winston Churchill. “(The lawyer) is not just a lawyer... he is a minister of justice... It speaks of the difference between being in the conviction business and being in the justice business.”
In addition, Rogg said his decision to approve the plea agreement was based on the limitations of what he could successfully use in court.
“There is an inherent disconnect in the justice system between what is inherently known... and what I can use (in the prosecution),” Rogg said. “Our courts systematically limit what can be used to prove a case... Often those rulings are to the benefit of the defendant, even in a sex offender case like this one. These legal guardrails are centuries old and they can be protections of individual liberties of the accused. I take seriously the presumption of innocence... I am the person with the most evidence about both Helfert cases... we had statute of limitations here.”
He also said the “delayed reporting” in the case was a detriment.
In closing, Rogg echoed what he had said in December, saying, “(In) my professional judgement, for the good of the community, (I decided) to put the whole sad business behind us... There was no corruption. It was based on the items I had mentioned. The facts and the circumstances.”
Judge Barglind thanked both the defense and the prosecution for their comments, but again said she would not sentence Helfert according to that laid out in the agreement.
“The decision that I’m making here today is not in any way to criticize either of the attorneys... for their role in putting this agreement together. I would agree that both attorneys have put forth Herculean efforts,” Barglind said. “...I do believe that the sentencing agreement... is not the appropriate way to go in this matter. I do believe and what I intend to sentence Mr. Helfert to would be... a sentence of a minimum period of 40 months up to 5 years (in prison).”
Barglind said the decision was reached in part because the presentence report from 2020 had information the court was not previously familiar with at the time of the plea agreement.
“Most prevalently (it was) the similarities between the two cases, including grooming and the conduct of the defendant, which brought the case to a whole other level in my eyes,” Barglin said.
Because the court’s sentencing decision varied from the sentencing agreement reached in December, Helfert had the opportunity to withdraw his plea, which he did. As a result, his case is now headed to trial. He is scheduled for a pretrial conference on June 30 at 10:30 a.m.. The trial is set to begin Nov. 27
Meanwhile, he is also scheduled for a pretrial conference on June 6 for a separate case, concerning two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, filed in circuit court Sept. 7, 2022.
Last published: May 10, 2023 2:48:46 PM
The former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy charged with criminal sexual conduct (CSC) felonies will return to court for two separate cases.
On May 25, he will appear in circuit court to be sentenced for one count of criminal sexual conduct- intent to commit sexual penetration, to which he pled “no contest” on Dec. 14, 2022. When the case was filed in circuit court May 19, 2022, he was also originally charged with two additional counts: third degree criminal sexual conduct and second degree CSC-weapon used. However, those two charges were dropped on a “nolle prosequi” dismissal, or rather, “a formal decision by plaintiff or prosecutor not to pursue prosecution”.
During that Dec. 14 plea hearing, the defense and prosecution came to a plea agreement “ending the current and future trials.” Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg said Helfert would serve a total of 25 months in jail, five years of probation and be on the sex offender registry for the rest of his life.
TV6 is still not sure how this agreement will affect the other case scheduled for a pretrial conference in circuit court on June 6. That case concerns two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, filed in circuit court September 7, 2022.
In total, Helfert has seen five cases and 24 felony charges related to CSC against him enter Menominee County Circuit Court between 2020 and this year. Of those 24 charges, he has so far been sentenced for one, with the outcome of 3 to be decided upon, and the other 20 dismissed by way of nolle prosequi.
Aside from the two currently moving forward in circuit court next month, a case was filed against Helfert on Feb. 19, 2020, in which he was charged with one count of accosting children for immoral purposes and one count of third degree criminal sexual conduct. He was sentenced on Dec. 4, 2020 to six months community service for the charge of accosting children, for which he pled “guilty.” The second charge was dismissed.
Then on May 25, 2021, a case was filed in circuit court against Helfert in which he was accused of 16 felony charges: 8 counts of first degree CSC, 3 counts of second degree CSC, 3 counts of third degree CSC, 1 count of child abusive activity, and one count of committing/procuring gross indecency between males. On Feb. 19, 2022 all 16 of those charges were dismissed by a decision of “nolle prosequi.”
The fifth case, in which Helfert was charged with one count of second degree CSC-weapon used, was filed in circuit court on May 19, 2022. That charge was disposed on a nolle prosequi dismissal on Dec. 20, 2022.
Last published: Nov 1, 2022 10:33:48 AM
The former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy charged with criminal sexual conduct (CSC) felonies will stand trial in December.
Brian Helfert faces felony charges from three separate criminal sexual conduct cases. He will appear in Menominee County Circuit Court on Dec. 12 for a jury trial for one of those cases, in which he is charged with one felony count of child sexually abusive activity.
For another case in which he is charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree, he will appear in circuit court for a pretrial conference on Nov. 14.
A date has still not been set for his next court appearance concerning the third case against him in Menominee County Circuit Court — in which he is charged with two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree and one count of child sexually abusive activity, all felonies.
This comes after Helfert’s 16 former CSC charges against Helfert were dismissed in Menominee County Circuit Court on a motion of Nolle Prosequi in Feb. 2022 (see previous stories below for more information).
We will continue to update this story.
Last published: Oct. 31, 2022
A former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy was back in court Monday for two pretrial conferences.
Brian Helfert appeared in Menominee County Circuit Court Monday Oct. 31 for pretrial conferences related to two felony criminal sexual conduct cases against him and a total of four felony charges: two counts of child sexually abusive activity, one count of criminal sexual conduct-third degree, and one count of criminal sexual conduct-third degree (student).
The next court date for these two cases has not yet been set.
Helfert will be back in court, however, on Nov. 14 for a pretrial conference related to a third case against him, in which he is charged with two counts of felony criminal sexual conduct in the first degree.
Last published: Feb 22, 2022 4:20:24 PM
While one case against a former Menominee County Sheriff’s Deputy will not see a trial, four new cases are moving forward.
Brian Helfert appeared before Hon. Robert Jamo in Menominee County District Court Tuesday for probable cause conferences related to each of the four new felony cases against him.
Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg said following the conferences, Judge Jamo scheduled a preliminary examination for April 6 at 9:00 a.m. for two of the four cases. He also ordered a supplementary probable cause conference for the third and fourth cases for April 6, at which time he will schedule another preliminary exam.
This comes after Helfert’s initial 16 charges were dismissed in Menominee County Circuit Court on a motion of Nolle Prosequi (see below for more information).
Rogg said that the Judge’s prior decision to deny bond is continued, subject to Helfert’s right to file a motion to address it further.
We will continue to follow this case as it develops. Read the previous story below.
Last published: Feb 21, 2022 11:49:45 AM
Sixteen charges against a former Menominee County deputy have been dismissed before trial in Menominee County Circuit Court.
According to court documents, at a hearing Feb. 17, Brian Helfert’s 16 charges including Criminal Sexual Conduct and Child Sexually Abusive Activity were dismissed with a Nolle Prosequi decision, or rather, “a formal decision by plaintiff or prosecutor not to pursue prosecution”.
The Nolle Prosequi dismissal is a result of necessary witnesses being unavailable due to “evidentiary issues” which prevent them from testifying. Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey T. Rogg said an adjournment of the trial was sought but denied and the case will be filed at a later date.
Helfert is still scheduled for a probable cause conference in Menominee County District Court Tuesday for 18 new felony charges stemming from new cases which came to light two weeks ago.
Last published: Feb 11, 2022 10:13:57 AM
A former Menominee County deputy was arraigned Thursday on four new cases involving the alleged sexual assault of minors.
Fifty-seven-year-old Brian Helfert is charged with 18 new felonies.
His charges include eight life offenses – including Child Sexually Abusive Activity, Criminal Sexual Conduct and Third-Degree, Assault with Intent to Commit Penetration.
The charges arise from a number of incidents alleged to have occurred from 2003 to 2018. The facts filed with the court in support of the felony complaint allege a serial history of sexual assault and abuse of the victims at the hands of Helfert.
Menominee County Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey T. Rogg invited other potential victims to come forward.
“Every allegation against Mr. Helfert will be fully investigated by the Menominee Police Department and can still be prosecuted by me,” said Rogg.
Helfert has retained attorney Trenton Stupak of Escanaba to represent him. A Probable Cause Conference (PCC) is scheduled for Feb. 22, at 11:30 a.m.
The Preliminary Examination for each case will be scheduled by the court after each PCC.
95-A District Court Judge Robert Jamo denied the pretrial release of Helfert. He is being held without bond in the Dickinson County Jail, due to his long-time employment at the Menominee County Sheriff’s Office.
We will continue to update this story as new information becomes available.
MENOMINEE COUNTY, Mich. (WLUC) - A former Sheriff’s Deputy facing over a dozen felony charges is hoping to reduce his bond, while the County Prosecutor wants to raise it.
57-year-old Brian Helfert is facing 16 counts related to the sexual assault of a minor. The charges stem from an alleged six-year history of sexual assault and abuse of a student victim that Helfert was supposed to be mentoring. Helfert was convicted of sexual misconduct of a teenager in December of 2020 and sentenced to six months in jail.
Prosecuting Attorney Jeffrey Rogg argues that the bond should be raised from $250,000 to $750,000, due to the graphic testimony of the victim during the pretrial and the severity of the charges. In court documents, Rogg states that another victim has come up in the weeks following the bind over the decision in this case. Rogg believes that there may be more victims, calling Helfert a “serial predator”.
According to court documents, Helfert is asking the court to modify his bond to 10% of $100,000. Helfert says it should be lowered because he has no prior felony convictions and he lives in Menominee County, meaning there would be no reason for him to leave town. Court documents also state that he has not been convicted and should be considered innocent until proven guilty.
The pre-trial is scheduled for Friday, July 2.
Read the original story here.
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