Joseph Rankin back in Iron County Court for jury trial

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CRYSTAL FALLS, Mich (WLUC) - Wednesday Dec. 6th: Closing arguments are currently being heard over the alleged criminal sexual conduct case against Joseph Rankin.

Rankin did not take the stand in his own defense Wednesday.
He is facing charges for unlawful practice without a license, criminal sexual conduct in the second and fourth degree, and assault and battery.
Wednesday was day three of what was supposed to be a week long trial.
Prosecution and defense both called their expert witnesses on Wednesday afternoon.
Prosecutions expert witness was a licensed massage therapist Deborah St. John. St. John has no relation to Rankin but was able to answer questions as a current massage therapist.
Defense's expert witness was Rankin's former massage therapist teacher Harold Rudnianen.
Closing arguments were heard Wednesday evening. WLUC TV6 will have those details on the Late News at 10CT/11ET.


Tuesday Dec. 5th: The former Iron River massage therapist charged with criminal sexual conduct was back in Iron County Court Tuesday for a jury trial.
Joseph Rankin is facing charges for unlawful practice without a license, criminal sexual conduct in the second and fourth degree, and assault and battery.

Monday the jury was set, and Tuesday both the prosecution and defense presented their opening statements to the jury.

The prosecution first focused on touch and how the simple act affects humans at many stages of life, including her client's incident with Joseph Rankin. "Touch - it is the first language and the last, and it always tells the truth. That's a quotation by the poet Margaret Atwood," says Melissa Powell, the Iron County Prosecuting Attorney. Powell then described the acts that Rankin allegedly performed on the victim.

The defense focused on how the case will be about the victim's testimony, but his client Joseph Rankin did not use force or a weapon, and everything was consensual up to the moment when she told Rankin to stop. Defense Attorney Roy Polich did say his client was guilty of something, however. "Joey is guilty of something - being so stupid to help a friend when there were no other witnesses." He also went through the victim's account of the incident, and reminded the jury that the victim has presented her case several times and there should not be any inconsistencies.

Following opening statements, the victim took the stand to be questioned by the prosecution and defense. "And then he went underneath on my skin and down my shirt like this and at that point I thought, "What the heck is going on? Like is this true? What am I doing, is this a friend? I've known him...' And that split second I said, 'Oh my gosh, that hurts!' And I flung his hand off," the victim described. She continued recounting the alleged incident closing saying, "I said, 'Oh my God, Joey! What are you doing?! I'm not comfortable!' And he said 'Oh, okay' and jumped off."

The prosecution went through how the victim and Joseph Rankin knew each other, their professional relationship, the act of the alleged incident and the week following.

The defense followed the prosecution recounting previous court dates and how certain details did not match with the victim's current testimony. In her most recent testimony, the victim called Rankin a "professional friend," whereas her September testimony voluntarily called him a "friend" seven times. The victim also changed her reaction to the alleged sexual act from "immediately" asking him to stop, to a number of seconds.

Wednesday, the expert witness for the prosecution will begin, followed by the defense.

Please continue to follow TV6's coverage online and the evening newscasts.

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