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Mich. Sheriff Convicted of Rape

April 27, 2000

MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. (AP) _ A jury convicted a longtime sheriff Thursday of raping a woman at a law enforcement convention last year, rejecting his claim that the sex was consensual.

Macomb County Sheriff William Hackel, 58, faces up to 15 years in prison on each of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

He will be held in the Isabella County jail pending sentencing at an undetermined date.

Hackel, who has been sheriff in his suburban Detroit county for 23 years, clenched his jaw as the verdicts were read in Isabella County Circuit Court but made no comment.

``I’d say he reacted with the same dignity that he has shown not only through this trial but through his life,″ defense attorney William Howarth said, adding that Hackel’s wife of 24 years, Ada, was ``devastated.″

Hackel remained in office since the charges were filed last November. Earlier this month, the Democrat announced he was running for a seventh term.

In 1995, he decided against switching parties to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. David Bonior, despite overtures from national Republicans, including Newt Gingrich.

Prosecutors said the assault occurred Oct. 11 at a sheriff’s convention at the Soaring Eagle Resort. Hackel testified that the woman had consented to sex.

The woman testified that she agreed to have lunch in her room with Hackel. Once inside, she said, Hackel tried to undress her and ignored her when she twice asked him to stop kissing and groping her.

Defense witnesses included Macomb County Prosecutor Carl Marlinga.

``I testified what I knew about him, which was that he was an honorable guy in everything I’ve ever known, never showed aggression toward anybody,″ Marlinga said after the verdict. ``It’s still hard for me to fathom how this could come about, but I’m not in a position to doubt the jury verdict, either. I’ll just have to rely on the system.″

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