The Michigan Court of Appeals has issued a ruling in the case of a former Howell business owner charged with sexual assault.

52-year-old David Price III, owner of the now-closed Hog Wild BBQ and Catering in Howell, was charged in two separate cases with multiple counts of criminal sexual conduct. A ruling to exclude evidence in his case was challenged by the Livingston County Prosecutor’s Office, with arguments made October 10th in Lansing to a three-judge panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals. While many decisions by the appeals court can take months, the panel wasted no time in this case.

Price was charged after two 20-year-old women alleged he assaulted them soon after they started work at the restaurant. The first alleged assault occurred in November 2014, with the second in August of 2015. Authorities say DNA evidence gathered after the first assault matches Price. He claims the sex in both instances was consensual.

The appeals panel said that Livingston County Circuit Court Judge Michael Hatty did not engage in the proper legal analysis when deciding the motion to exclude the prior acts because he had failed to determine if they were “relevant to the existence of a scheme or plan” which in this case would be Price’s alleged intent to use his position as employer to perpetuate a sexual assault while using his control of the surroundings to gain “the element of surprise.” The case was remanded back to Hatty to decide the motion based on the proper legal standard. (JK)