Former CMU student president gets lesser charge in wake of prosecutor's alleged misconduct

Beth LeBlanc
The Detroit News

A former Central Michigan University student accused of sexual misconduct withdrew his original plea Friday and pleaded no contest to a lesser charge in the wake of alleged inappropriate behavior by the prosecutor assigned to his case. 

Ian Elliot, CMU’s former student government association president, pleaded no contest Friday to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct as part of a deal struck between Attorney General Dana Nessel and Elliot’s attorney Joseph Barberi. 

In this June 4, 2019, photo, Dana Nessel, Attorney General of Michigan, listens to a question from reporters in Detroit.

Last summer, Elliot pleaded no contest to third-degree criminal sexual conduct, but he withdrew his plea Friday, a few months after Nessel’s office said the lead prosecutor on the case had an inappropriate relationship with a victim in the case. 

“After extensive discussions with both victims, it was decided that the best resolution of this matter was to allow Mr. Elliott to plead to criminal sexual conduct-fourth degree, ensuring that he would continue to serve a year in jail and have various other conditions imposed during a lengthy term of probation after his release,” Nessel said in a statement.

The new plea agreement is a "good step to right the wrong" imposed on his client, Barberi said. 

Former Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej resigned in lieu of being fired in September and his alleged actions are under investigation by the Michigan State Police.

After Kolodziej’s resignation, Nessel demoted one employee, fired another and made changes in training, reporting and structure within the department. 

After reviewing Kolodziej’s cases, Nessel dismissed charges against two people in Oakland County and agreed to cooperate with Elliot’s motion to withdraw his previous plea. 

Elliott’s new misdemeanor plea to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct carries a penalty of up to two years in prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 7. 

Under his previous plea agreement, Elliot was sentenced to 1-15 years in prison. 

As part of the agreement, Elliott's new sentence will include a maximum of 12 months in jail, instead of prison, with credit for the five-and-a-months he already has served and good time, which will bring his total imprisonment to about 10 months, Barberi said. 

The agreement also places Elliott on a nonpublic sex offender registry for 15 years, rather than lifetime registry on the public system, Barberi said.