Robert Louis Messer, 37, of Northville, appears on a video screen as he is arraigned by Judge Michael J. Gerou in 35th District Court in Plymouth on several counts of criminal sexual conduct. (John T. Greilick / The Detroit News)
A Northville man accused of running away with a 15-year-old girl over the weekend to start a romance with her was arraigned Thursday on several counts of criminal sexual conduct.
Robert Louis Messer, 37, appeared via video for his arraignment in 35th District Court. He is charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of accosting a minor for immoral purposes.
“Looking at the number of the offenses and the severity of the offenses, I’m looking at a high bond,”Judge Michael Gerou said.
Gerou ordered Messer into custody on a $2 million bond.
In considering bond, Gerou asked the defendant if he had anything to say. The defendant answered no, adding he was not a threat.
If Messer, who works in a coffeehouse and lives with his parents in Northville, is able to post bond, he must wear a GPS tether and stay away from children younger than 18.
Defense attorney Jonathan Jones waived entering a plea.
The girl’s mother, stepfather and two sisters appeared in court. The Detroit News generally does not identify victims of alleged criminal sexual conduct and isn’t naming the parents to protect the identity of the girl.
The teen’s mother said the family has a long road ahead to overcome the betrayal by a man she thought of as a brother.
“He takes (away) my trust in anybody: babysitters, aunts, uncles,” she said. “He was like her uncle, her father. I mean how much more can you trust a person than that? Obviously, you can’t. It’s going to take a lot of healing to trust anybody.”
The mother said Messer has his own children and it was not unusual for her daughter, a middle child of four, to spend time with him and his family.
She said she had no idea Messer was involved with her daughter.
“If I did, I probably would have strangled him a long time ago,” she said.
On Sunday, Messer left a note for his mother declaring his love for the girl. That day, he picked her up from her family’s Plymouth Township home and the two drove to his home.
The victim’s mother told The Detroit News her daughter got permission Sunday to go with Messer to Ann Arbor to go hiking and take some photographs.
The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office alleges that Messer had sexual contact with the girl at locations in Wayne and Washtenaw counties.
Police in Washtenaw County found Messer and the girl Tuesday.
Plymouth Township police Detective Charles Rozum said media attention helped investigators find Messer and thegirl.
A tipster on Tuesday afternoon notified authorities that a 1991 Ford pickup matching the description of the vehicle was parked in a field behind a travel trailer on Chubb Road, north of Seven Mile in Salem Township, Rozum said.
Michigan State Police arrived to find Messer and the girl with self-inflicted cuts.
“They were conscious and alert but they hadn’t eaten since Sunday, plus they had lost some blood,” Rozum said.
Police believe they had been in the parked truck in the field since Sunday when the victim left her home.
Messer is scheduled to appear in 35th District Court for a preliminary exam at 8:30 a.m. Nov 8.