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Benton Harbor cop charged with sexual assault

1-12-2012 Michigan:

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. - A former Benton Harbor police officer was arrested today and is now facing prison time if convicted of sexual assault allegations.

42-year-old Jared Graves, a 14-year veteran employee of the Benton Harbor Department of Public Safety was arrested at his home today by Michigan State Police.

Graves mostly sat in silence Thursday afternoon over a video transmission from the jail while the judge read off charges. Graves faces felonies: two for criminal sexual conduct, one for misconduct in office and another for delivery of marijuana.

According to charging documents, on October 5th, Graves investigated a reported smell of marijuana at the Harbor Towers apartment complex right across the street from the police station. Graves took the weed from a 24-year-old woman but never busted her.

According to the complaint, two days later he called the woman to the department, took her in a storage room and threatened to arrest her if she didn’t perform sexual acts on him. He gave the drugs back when it was over.

On November 15th Graves called the victim to back to the department and said he could still charge her with marijuana possession if she didn’t have sex with him.
Roger Lange, Director of Public Safety, said he reacted with “disappointment and disgust” when he learned about the allegations. Lange says within hours the department started an internal investigation into Graves.

Lange said video surveillance of the building confirmed the allegations. “These cameras came in very useful in obtaining evidence needed to prove the allegations,” he said. Lange says within 12 hours of the victim coming forward Graves was taken off of patrol work and within days Graves resigned from his position.

Lange says the department moved fast and this type of behavior will not be tolerated. “This department is going to be accountable for its actions and every officer here will be held accountable for their actions,” he said.

According to the documents, Graves admitted most of the allegations except he says the sex with the victim was consensual. ..Source.. by Ryan Klund


Former Benton Harbor officer accused of wrongdoing found dead from apparent suicide

1-12-2012 Michigan:

BERRIEN COUNTY – The Berrien County prosecutor tells WSBT that Jared Graves was found dead in his home Thursday afternoon from an apparent suicide.

Graves resigned from the Benton Harbor police department last November. He faced drug, misconduct in office, and criminal sexual conduct charges.

Investigators say he threatened to arrest a woman for marijuana possession if she did not perform sex acts in an apartment, and then at the police department last fall. ..Source.. by WSBT


Accused ex-cop kills himself


BENTON HARBOR -- A former Benton Harbor policeman who was in trouble with the law has killed himself.

Jared Graves, 42, hanged himself in his Benton Township home Thursday, police and court officials said.

Graves was accused of forcing a Benton Harbor woman into sex acts with him on two occasions in exchange for his not arresting her on a marijuana charge. A court hearing was to take place next week.

Berrien County Prosecutor Arthur Cotter called Graves' suicide "regrettable."

Graves was arrested last month on four felony counts, including two counts of criminal sexual conduct. He was out of jail on bond and was scheduled for a pre-exam conference today and a preliminary hearing in Berrien County Trial Court on Tuesday. The Tuesday hearing would have established whether there was probable cause to put Graves on trial for the charges facing him.

Benton Township police Detective Lt. Delmar Lange said police and Medic 1 ambulance were called to the Graves home at 1919 Broadway around 1 p.m. Thursday. He said police and paramedics found Joyce Graves in the basement performing CPR on her husband. Graves had hanged himself and was pronounced dead at the scene, Lange said.

Graves was facing two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony; one count of misconduct in office, a five-year felony; and one count of delivery of marijuana, a four-year felony.

State police investigated the case after a woman came into the Benton Harbor police station in late November and said Graves was forcing her into sex acts.

Benton Harbor Director of Public Safety Roger Lange put Graves on immediate administrative leave, and Graves resigned Nov. 28. He had been a police officer in Benton Harbor from 1994 to '98 and again from 2001 until he resigned. He was a Benton Harbor Police Officer of the Year in 2008.

Graves was also a church pastor. He was appointed pastor of the Franklin African Methodist Episcopal Church in Niles in 2005 and had previously served as pastor of Quinn Chapel AME Church near Cassopolis.

The charges against Graves alleged that on Oct. 5, while still a Benton Harbor patrolman, he forced a 24-year-old woman to perform oral sex on him under the threat that he would arrest her for possession of marijuana, which he had confiscated from her two days earlier.

The woman told police that Graves had called her and insisted that she come to the police station to discuss possible charges. It was at the police station that he told her he would return the marijuana to her if she would perform the sex act, the woman told police.

The woman said Graves contacted her again Nov. 16 at Harbor Towers, where she lives, took her to a police office inside the apartment building and forced her to have sex with him under the continuing threat that he could still charge her with a marijuana offense.

"Based upon the evidence I had in this case, he committed a despicable act, but having known him as a court officer and having some sense of who he was, I don't think that told the whole picture," Cotter said Thursday. "He wasn't beyond redemption. I'm sorry for his family that he decided to do what he did."

Cotter said he saw some good in Graves.

"Based upon what I've learned, he had demons that he was wrestling with when it came to sex, and he had a debt to pay. But at some point when he'd paid that debt he'd have been back with his family," Cotter said. "His family has suffered a lot and I think they'll continue to suffer. This is regrettable for his family." ..Source.. by JULIE SWIDWA The Herald-Palladium

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