Statute Definitions Could Help Jackson Baseball Coach
This past week, Jonathan Hastings resigned from Jackson Public Schools amid allegations that he was engaging in illegal activity with a student who is believed to be 17 years old. It appears that Mr. Hastings was charged with Using a Computer to Commit a Crime and Promoting or Distributing Child Sexually abusive activity. It is the latter of the two charges that carries a life changing penalty. He could face a maximum sentence of 7 years in prison (but, given his lack of criminal history will likely not see the inside of a prison--absent a departure from Michigan's Sentencing Guidelines) and he will be placed on Michigan's Sex Offender Registry. The penalties are relatively straight forward, however, his true defense may be found in Michigan statutes.
There is no question that the charges Mr. Hastings faces are serious. However, the statutes clearly define what arises to "child sexually abusive activity". The strength of his case will rest on the clear language of those statutes. First, the prosecutor has the heavy burden of showing that Mr. Hastings--"persuaded, induced, enticed, coerced, caused, or knowingly allowed [the 17 year old] to engage in a child sexually abusive activity for the purpose of producing any child sexually abusive material, or [he] arranged for, produced, made, copied, reproduced, or financed . . . any child sexually abusive activity or child sexually abusive material for personal, distributional, or other purposes.". That is going to be a tall task. While consent of the 17 year old is not a defense, there should be a real question of whether Mr. Hasting took any steps to induce, entice, coerced or persuaded the 17 year old to do what is alleged. Despite recent SORA changes by a federal court, there is a significant possibilty that, if convicted, Mr. Hastings will not be able to attend any of his kids school functions, sporting events or other monumental milestones in their life.
There are a number of other issues that may be presented during the course of Mr. Hasting's defense. Understanding the statute, the complications presented by SORA and the sentencing guidelines will be tantamount to his success in court. I know. I have handled similar charges during my represenation of successful businessmen, Department of Correction Employees and young adults. A conviction carries penalties that the accused will have to address for the rest of their lives.