Ex-CMU student leader sentenced to 1 year in sex assault case
Two women read victim statements Friday afternoon in an Isabella County courtroom, saying they'd "never imagined" they would be standing there, facing someone sentenced for sexual assault.
Ian Elliott, the former president of Central Michigan University's student government association, was sentenced to a minimum of 366 days to a maximum 180 months by Isabella County Chief Judge Eric Jones.
Elliott had pleaded no contest to one felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct. The Michigan attorney general initially had charged him with three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree and one count of assault with intent to commit penetration, but after a plea agreement reached with the victims and Elliott, other charges were dropped, according to the state Attorney General's Office.
Rachel Wilson and Landrea Blackmore read their victim statements Friday, where they said Elliott assaulted them while he was a CMU student and member of Phi Kappa Tau.
The charge in Blackmore's case involving an incident on Nov. 15, 2014, was dropped, but as part of a plea agreement, she was invited to read a victim impact statement with Wilson during the sentencing hearing, said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for the Attorney General's Office. .
The Detroit News typically does not name victims of sexual assault, but the two women asked that their names and impact statements be used, Rossman-McKinney said.
Blackmore said she never thought she'd be in court facing Elliott, who sat nearby.
"I can honestly say that 1,720 days ago, the day after it all happened, I never imagined I would be standing here," Blackmore said. "I don’t believe Ian Elliott ever imagined I would be here either."
Blackmore said Elliott was her friend whom she met years before studying at CMU. They met through the Michigan Association of Student Councils and honor societies. She said she considered him a mentor and, at one point, "truly believed Ian could be a world-changer and am disgusted at the potential that he’s wasted," she said in her statement.
Wilson, during her victim impact statement, said Elliott demanded oral sex as she lay disoriented on a bed on Aug. 31, 2016.
"I said NO," Wilson said. "Yet this wasn’t enough for you Ian, as became evident when you responded, 'Don’t you know how this works? Why did you even come here?' "
Wilson also talked about rape culture and the victim shaming she faced.
"To be asked, 'Why didn’t you run?' was bad enough. But to hear the words, 'Those bruises on your thighs are simply the result of this young man using your thighs as leverage,' cut deep," Wilson said.
"In that moment I felt like I didn’t matter. I felt invisible. These kinds of details need to stop falling through the cracks. Victims of sexual assault deserve better."
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, whose office handled the prosecution of Elliott, thanked Wilson and Blackmore for their courage in speaking up.
"It is never easy for victims of sexual assault to speak out, report their crimes and face their attacker," Nessel said in a statement. "Ian Elliott used his position to take advantage of these young women and continued to rally his supporters in an effort to shame his victims. They stood strong and I am grateful for their persistence."