Following sustained public criticism and outrage over the sentence of a Brighton Township juvenile convicted of sexual assault against multiple girls, Livingston County Prosecutor Bill Vailliencourt says he is planning on seeking a review of the ruling.

The 16-year-old, who is not being identified because he was charged as a juvenile, originally faced 31 felonies, but entered into a plea deal in which he only admitted to six of the counts including one count each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and accosting a minor for immoral purposes, and four counts of possession of child sexually explicit material. The majority of the charges against the teen stemmed from allegations that he sexually assaulted three teen girls in Livingston County within the last two and a half years.

Last week he was ordered by Livingston County Juvenile Court Referee Chelsea Thomason to spend 45 days at the Monroe County Youth Center, but then will be allowed to return home and undergo outpatient sex offender rehabilitation. That was despite the plea agreement stipulating he be admitted to a residential sex offender facility. However, the referee was not bound by the terms of the deal and sided with the boy’s attorney and probation officer that residential treatment was not necessary. That drew quick reaction from parents of the victims, who said they were “shocked” by the sentence and the referee’s refusal to follow the plea agreement. Social media reaction was also highly critical of the decision.

In a Facebook post this week, Vailliencourt said he appreciated and shared the public’s “sense of outrage” over the sentence, but reminded them that “contrary to what many believe, a prosecutor cannot force a judge to impose a specific sentence,” adding that “the defendant pled to the highest charge under the law - first degree criminal sexual conduct” but that the “court has complete authority over the range of sentence it imposes. And it has that authority whether there is a guilty plea to one count or ten counts or a hundred counts.” As for the plea deal, Vailliencourt said that the benefit was to give the court the authority to impose the maximum sentence while sparing the young girls the unnecessary trauma of testifying at trial.

Vailliencourt said that he too is “frequently frustrated” by some of the sentences imposed by judges and then confirmed his office will be filing a motion to have the sentence reviewed by a different judge. However, he said while that judge will have the discretion to change or modify what has previously been ordered, they will also have the discretion not to do so. (JK)