Nessel dismisses Oakland County sex assault case after assistant AG probe

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

Attorney General Dana Nessel will dismiss charges in an Oakland County sexual assault case and cooperate in an effort to set aside a plea in an Isabella County case following an internal investigation of former Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej.

The decisions came following the September resignation of Kolodziej amid allegations that he had an inappropriate relationship while lead prosecutor with one of the victims in the Isabella County case.

Following Kolodziej’s resignation, the Michigan State Police began investigating Kolodziej to determine potential charges of misconduct in office and criminal sexual conduct.  

Nessel’s office also undertook an independent internal investigation that included interviews with 26 people, her office said. She is not yet releasing the report because of the ongoing law enforcement investigation and has forwarded her department's findings to the state police.

“In the end, today does not reflect the truthfulness of the victims in these cases but rather the consequence of a prosecutor who failed in his sacred duty to properly administer justice in our legal system,” Nessel said in a statement.

A message seeking comment from Kolodziej's attorney was not immediately returned.

The internal investigation led the attorney general Monday to agree to concur with a defense motion to set aside the no contest plea of Ian Elliott, who pleaded this summer to third-degree criminal sexual conduct in Isabella County and is serving a year in prison.

Nessel's concurrence with the decision is not the same as a dismissal of charges, and his case will continue to proceed forward. 

Elliott's lawyer Joe Barberi said he was pleased with Nessel's decision and called it "the right thing." He hopes to reach an agreement with Nessel's office regarding the future of the case.

"In my opinion, I can never ever get a fair trial based on what he’s done to witnesses," Barberi said. "I'm hoping to reach an agreement about how we can resolve this without having to go back … and have another trial.”

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel answers questions from the media in this Sept. 23, 2019, file photo.

Nessel also filed Monday a motion to dismiss charges against Larry Orr and his stepson Sean MacMaster, who were charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a child under 13 years old. The charges were dismissed without prejudice.

The internal investigation found allegations regarding Kolodziej’s conduct in the Orr and MacMaster case that were “tantamount to serious violations of our prosecutorial standards,” Nessel said.  

“I hope that my actions here today are not viewed as a failure of our criminal justice system but — instead — a reflection of my commitment to the fundamental principles upon which it is based,” Nessel said in a statement.

Orr and MacMaster, a Jacksonville, Florida, police officer, were charged earlier this year and have a hearing date Dec. 4, when the judge is expected to consider the motion to dismiss, MacMaster's lawyer Alona Sharon said. 

"We feel it is the appropriate decision and we're just grateful that that's the decision that Attorney General Nessel came to," Sharon said. 

Nessel's decision shows she "is clearly upholding her duty under the law to seek justice," said Shannon Smith, Orr's attorney. 

"Like the rest of the public, we are anxious to see the investigative report once it is issued," Smith said.