Sex charge dropped against Plymouth-Canton teacher aide

Holly Fournier
The Detroit News

Plymouth — A sex charge was dropped Friday against a Plymouth-Canton Community Schools teacher’s aide after prosecutors learned her alleged victim is unwilling to testify.

Bridget Caplin, a Plymouth-Canton Community Schools middle school teacher's aide, stands before the court on Friday, Nov. 4, 2016 at the 35th District Court in Plymouth. Charges of sexual contact with a 15-year-old student were dropped after the alleged victim was unwilling to testify.

The 16-year-old student's identity was made public during Bridget Caplin's arraignment last month, Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Michael Woodyard said in court. As a result, he is unwilling to proceed with the case or testify in court.

"The name of the complaining witness was broadcast (on a livestream)," Woodyard said. "And it’s still on the internet now."

Prosecutors on Friday dropped a third-degree criminal sexual conduct charge against Caplin, 41. She remained charged with alleged acts connected to a second victim: distributing obscene material to children and using a computer to commit a crime.

The first victim's father told The Detroit News he is disappointed with his son's decision not to testify but will continue following the case.

"That is the only reason that my son would not testify today, because he pretty much was shamed in public and in the media," the father said. "He pretty much let a rapist walk."

The News is not naming the man in order to preserve his son's anonymity. Reached by phone Friday, the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office confirmed the man's identity.

The father said he immediately contacted the local television station that posted the livestream, and the clip was removed. But it was too late and the footage found its way to YouTube, he said.

"He's gotten blowback at school," the father said.

Caplin initially was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly having oral sex with the boy, then 15 years old, in the parking lot of a church, according to his father.

The second alleged victim also was identified on the livestream, according to the first victim's father.

"But they have videos, pictures, text messages," including an alleged pornographic selfie in that case, the man said. And that boy remained willing to testify, but did not appear in court Friday.

The first victim has bowed out due to embarrassment but also because he does not appear to feel victimized, his father said.

"He thinks that this woman did nothing wrong," the man said. "He's dead set against (testifying)."

Caplin's preliminary examination was scheduled to start at 9 a.m. Friday, but was delayed until close to noon as prosecutors and family tried to convince the boy, who was in the courthouse, to testify.

"They needed (my son) to talk, and he absolutely refused to talk," his father said. "He specifically said: 'I'm all over YouTube today.' "

Caplin waived the preliminary examination Friday on her two remaining charges and is scheduled to appear Nov. 11 at Frank Murphy Hall of Justice in Detroit.

The sex charge was dropped without prejudice, meaning it may be reinstated if the alleged victim decides to testify or if investigators discover new evidence.

Caplin's attorney Matt Savich and Woodyard declined to comment following the brief hearing.

Officials have said Caplin engaged in oral sex with her daughters’ 15-year-old male friends and supplied the boys with alcohol. The investigation began after Plymouth police received an anonymous tip at the end of May from an online California-based company called We Tip.

"The original tip mentioned my son by name, Bridget (Caplin) by name, and what happened," the boy's father said.

Police Chief Al Cox said the name of the school where Caplin worked was not provided by the tipster, but police began calling around the large school district and got lucky on their first try, discovering the defendant was a paraprofessional at East Middle School.

Both boys were 15-year-old sophomores at Salem High School and friends with Caplin's daughters at the time of the alleged offenses, the first victim's father said.

"She was the party mom," the man said.

Caplin was put on administrative leave soon after the investigation began, Cox said. She was arrested Oct. 12 in Monroe County and arraigned Oct. 19, where she received a $250,000 cash surety bond.

hfournier@detroitnews.com

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@HollyPFournier