October 22, 2014

Pre-trials held for defendants in Turner prostitution ring case

By Tim Barnum
Staff writer
Posted

ARENAC COUNTY — Roger Burgess, Kevin O’Neill, April Stokr and Leo Nashatka, four defendants in a prostitution scandal involving underage females in Turner, all appeared in the 23rd Circuit Court on Nov. 26.

Out of the four, only Stokr, 22, of Battle Creek, who is facing five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) and two counts of second-degree CSC, had her charges dismissed after she agreed to testify against the other defendants.

A jury trial for the other co defendants is tentatively scheduled for Jan. 27, 29 and 30.

Burgess, 43, of Turner, is being charged with nine counts of first-degree CSC and two counts of second-degree CSC, all with a person under 13 and he was the first to request a jury trial. Attorney William Brisbois represented him.

A victim’s statement has also been recorded, said Vollbach during the Burgess pre-trial.

“These are statements that were provided by the witness,” he said. “The primary victim was nine years old when she was victimized.”

He added that at least one co-defendant has also verified the witness’s statements as accurate.

However, Vollbach also said he thought Brisbois would call an expert witness to testify on behalf of his client.

“I would assume that there is a very distinct possibility that I would want to contact an expert of my own,” Vollbach said.

Burgess is currently out on bond, but a stipulation was made by Judge William Myles that Burgess not make direct or indirect contact with Stokr.

O’Neill, 24, of Turner, faces three counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) with a person under 13, was the next defendant to come before the court. Attorney Patrick Winter represented him.

Winter raised the issue that instances from the victim’s statement, not the incidents for which O’Neill is being charged, which occurred in the summer of 2003, but other ones that may affect the case, could have possibly happened before O’Neill was 18.

But Vollbach said it doesn’t matter.

“It would not make a difference if he was a juvenile,” Vollbach said. “The charges would be exactly the same. … It is treated the same as if he was 45.”

Nashatka was the final defendant to appear in court on Nov. 26 with his attorney Keith E. Moir.

Nashatka, 22, of AuGres, has been charged with four counts of first-degree CSC and one count of second-degree CSC. All alleged counts were due to sexual contact with a female under 13 years old.

During Nashatka’s pre-trial, Moir filed a verbal motion for a psychological analysis on a victim and for an investigator to seek out potential defense witnesses he had contacted. Myles turned down the verbal motion, but didn’t rule out acknowledging the motions if they were made formally.

All alleged instances of CSC were reported as occurring in the summer of 2003. All witnesses and exhibits for evidence have to be submitted to the court by Dec. 17.

The penalty for first-degree CSC can be as severe as life imprisonment.

Copyright © 2014, Sunrise Publishing. Powered by: Creative Circle Advertising Solutions, Inc.