Jury trial for man accused of taking teen girl from Forsyth Township home rescheduled
Police say Terrence Clay was arrested for human trafficking after attempting to smuggle the girl across the Mackinac Bridge.
FORSYTH TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WLUC) - UPDATE: Previously scheduled for this week, the jury trial for a Kent County man arrested for taking a foster girl from a Forsyth Township home had been pushed to October.
Terrence Clay was previously scheduled for a trial by jury in the United States Court for the Western District of Michigan beginning July 17. However, Clay’s attorney, First Assistant Federal Public Defender Helen C. Nieuwenhuis, filed a motion for ends of justice continuance June 14.
The motion requested the dates for the pretrial conference and jury trial be pushed by at least 60 days to allow Clay’s counsel time to review the case discovery and conduct an independent background investigation. The court granted the request, finding that “the ends of justice served by the granting of a continuance outweighs the best interest of the public and Defendant in a speedy trial.”
Clay is now scheduled for a final pretrial conference on Sept. 18 and a jury trial beginning Oct. 2 at 9 a.m.
Last published: May 26, 2023 11:59:48 AM
The Kent County man arrested in Nov. 2022 for taking a teenage girl from a foster home in Forsyth Township has been scheduled for jury trial in federal court.
Terrence Clay, of Kent County, is scheduled to appear for a pretrial conference on June 22 at 10 a.m., according to federal court records. His jury trial is set to begin on July 17 at 9:00 a.m. in the United States Court for the Western District of Michigan.
He is charged with human trafficking, child sexually abusive activity, two counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and two counts of possession of child sexually abusive material.
For more information about the case, see the previous stories below.
Last published: May 11, 2023 1:52:37 PM
The case against a Kent County man who was arrested for taking a teenage girl from a foster home in Forsyth Township and attempting to smuggle her over the Mackinac Bridge has been moved to federal court.
U.S. Attorney Mark Totten announced Wednesday that Terrence Clay, age 39, of Kent County, has been indicted in federal court for sex trafficking and attempted sex trafficking of a child, sexual exploitation of a child, and distribution of child pornography.
“These sexual exploitation and child pornography allegations are extremely disturbing and very serious,” said Totten. “My office is committed to protecting our children as our youngest and most vulnerable citizens.”
Clay was previously charged in Kent County circuit court for the same case. His charges included human trafficking, child sexually abusive activity, two counts of using a computer to commit a crime, and two counts of possession of child sexually abusive material. Clay’s state charges were dismissed due to his federal prosecution.
Clay was arrested on Nov. 12, 2022 in Cheboygan County after Mackinac Bridge workers alerted law enforcement about a person hiding under a blanket in his vehicle as he attempted to cross from Upper Michigan to the Lower Peninsula.
Through the Freedom of Information Act, TV6 previously acquired a criminal complaint through the Forsyth Township Police Department, which confirmed that Clay had taken the teenage girl from a foster home in Forsyth Township early that morning. The FTPD said dispatch pinged the teen’s cell phone just east of Naubinway on US-2, which is about an hour west of the Mackinac Bridge. From there, police put out a description of the missing teen, which helped the Mackinac Bridge Authority identify her in Clay’s car.
Notes in the document from police interviews revealed that the Kent County Human Trafficking Task Force had begun investigating Clay in October of last year after receiving a tip. The department’s preliminary investigation found that Clay had befriended the girl, who was 16-years-old at the time, while she was living in Grand Rapids and that contact had resumed after she moved to the Upper Peninsula.
The federal indictment document released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan revealed additional information about the nature of his crimes. According to the indictment, Clay coerced the girl into being photographed nude and producing nude photographs of herself between Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. The indictment says he then distributed those photos digitally. Clay is also accused of recruiting, transporting, and advertising the girl for sex trafficking purposes between Oct. 2 and Nov. 12.
This case is part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative designed to protect children from exploitation and abuse. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Michigan; county prosecutor’s offices; HSI; Michigan State Police’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force; the West Michigan Based Child Exploitation Task Force (WEBCHEX); and federal, state, and local law enforcement are working closely together to locate, apprehend, and prosecute individuals who exploit children.
Anyone with information or concerns about possible child exploitation should contact local law enforcement. For more information about Project Safe Childhood in West Michigan, including resources for children and parents, please visit the Project Safe Childhood web page.
Last published: Mar 28, 2023 12:58:30 PM
The man arrested for taking a teenage girl from a foster home in Forsyth Township and attempting to smuggle her across the Mackinac Bridge has been bound over to Kent County Circuit Court.
Terrence Clay, 38, of Comstock Park Clay is scheduled for a status conference in Kent County’s 17th Circuit Court on April 24 at 1:30 p.m.
Clay was arrested Nov. 12 in Cheboygan County after Mackinac Bridge workers reported seeing someone hiding under a blanket in his car. He was charged with six felonies, including human trafficking. A Forsyth Township Police Department file confirmed that Clay had taken the teenage girl from a foster home in Forsyth Township.
He is charged with: 1 county of child abusive commercial activity, 2 counts of using a computer to commit crime, 1 count of human trafficking— procuring a person for forced labor-injury, and 2 counts of child sexually abusive material-possession.
Last published: Mar 1, 2023 11:33:21 AM
A case file obtained from the Forsyth Township Police Department (FTPD) reveals the man arrested for human trafficking at the Mackinac Bridge earlier this month took the teenage girl from a foster home in the Upper Peninsula.
Terrence Clay, 38, of Comstock Park was arrested on Nov. 12 in Cheboygan County.
According to the FTPD’s case file, the teen found with Clay was reported missing earlier that morning from a foster home in Forsyth Township. The FTPD said dispatch then pinged the teen’s cell phone just east of Naubinway on US-2, which is about an hour west of the Mackinac Bridge. From there, police put out a description of the missing teen.
The file said later that day, dispatch told FTPD the Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Office had located the missing teen, who was found in Clay’s car. The Cheboygan County Sheriff also said the MSP had informed them that Clay was the main suspect in a human trafficking case in Kent County.
According to a Department of Human Services (DHS)/Child Protective Services (CPS) worker who spoke to police, the teen had a documented history of being trafficked.
In addition, notes from a police interview with the missing teen revealed she had formerly been in contact with Clay while living in Lower Michigan. After entering the foster system and being moved to Forsyth Township, she said she obtained a phone and began contacting Clay via text. The teen told police Clay began asking for the address at which she was living in the U.P.
Clay allegedly informed the teen that he was on his way to get her before arriving on Nov. 12 and taking her from the home.
Clay was arrested by the Cheboygan County Sheriff and lodged at their jail until charges against him in Kent County were processed on Nov. 18. He was then transferred to Kent County Jail.
Clay is currently lodged at Kent County Jail on a $300,000 bond. He will next appear in the 63rd District Court for a preliminary exam on Dec. 14 at 9:45 a.m.
Meanwhile, after Clay’s arrest, the teenage girl was transported back to the Upper Peninsula home by DHS/CPS workers.
Last published: Nov 28, 2022 5:44:29 PM
The 38-year-old man arrested for human trafficking at the Mackinac Bridge earlier this month for attempting to smuggle a teen out of the Upper Peninsula has been arraigned.
Terrence Clay of Comstock Park was arraigned in Kent County 63rd District Court on Nov. 23. He was charged with six felonies:
- 1 county of child abusive commercial activity
- 2 counts of using a computer to commit crime (max imprisonment of 20 years or more)
- 1 count of human trafficking— procuring a person for forced labor-injury
- 2 counts of child sexually abusive material-possession
Michigan Department of Corrections documents show he was on parole at the time of his offense for a crime he committed in 2017. He was sentenced in August of that year for two charges: assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation and felony firearm possession.
According to the MDOC file, Clay’s parole began June 28, 2022 and was set to end in June of 2023.
Clay is currently lodged at the Kent County Jail on a $300,000 bond. He will next appear in the 63rd District Court for a preliminary exam on Dec. 14 at 9:45 a.m.
Last published: Nov 22, 2022 4:03:34 PM
A 38-year-old man from Comstock Park was arrested for human trafficking after Mackinac Bridge Authority workers spotted him attempting to smuggle a teen across the bridge and into the Upper Peninsula.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Task Force arrested the Comstock Park man on Nov. 12, after investigating him since the month prior.
Investigators with the task force received a tip in October about the suspect and had been working on leads since. The initial investigation found that the man befriended a 16-year-old Grand Rapids girl while in a public area. From there, she was trafficked through online postings.
On Nov. 12, KCSO received information that the teen was in the Upper Peninsula and possibly in the company of the man. Information was broadcast to Northern Michigan authorities and an observant staff member for the Mackinac Bridge Authority saw the suspect driving and a person hiding under a blanket in the back seat.
The Mackinac Bridge Authority summoned law enforcement and the vehicle was stopped after crossing the bridge into the U.P.
The Kent County Prosecutor’s Office authorized charges of: sexually abusive activity, human trafficking, possession of child abusive material, and using a computer to commit a crime. The man is expected to be arraigned in 63rd District court as early as Wednesday Nov. 23, according to a Kent County Sheriff’s deputy.
The Kent County Sheriff’s Office wants to thank the quick action of the Mackinac Bridge Authority, Michigan State Police, Cheboygan County Sheriff’s Office, and the Tuscarora Township Police Department in helping bring this case to resolution.
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