Cross sentenced to 5-15 years in prisonPublished 10:52am Friday, May 27, 2011
Former Niles Police Officer Ivery Cross was sentenced today to 5 to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting an inmate at the Law Enforcement Complex.
Cross, 26, pleaded guilty April 19 in Berrien County Court on three counts of criminal sexual conduct in the 2nd degree and misdemeanor misconduct in office. The prosecution dismissed a count of criminal sexual conduct in the 1st degree, which carried with it the possibility of a life sentence.
Cross had arrested the 19-year-old victim on a marijuana charge March 17 and lodged him at the Law Enforcement Complex, 1600 Silverbrook Ave., Niles. During that evening on two occasions, Cross said he touched the victim’s penis and on the second occasion also touched his buttocks. He also later sent text messages to and called the victim.
According to Chief Prosecutor Art Cotter, Cross had later set up a meeting with the victim to pick him up at a gas station and take him to his house, apparently to have him masturbate in front of him. It was when the victim arrived at Cross’ home that he was patted down and Cross discovered a wire. The police then moved in and arrested him.
The victim was not in court Friday; however, his family was present. Prosecuting attorney Steve Pierangeli read a letter from the victim in court.
“I feel I can’t trust the police anymore,” the victim stated in the letter. He claims he feels “castrated” and that Cross “took my manhood.” The victim said his family was fearful Cross would come to their home.
“The victim’s going to live with this the rest of his life,” Pierangeli said before sentencing. “This has affected his (Cross’) trust and authority.”
Cross’ attorney, Andrew Burch, said that Cross’ family discovered incriminating photos of the victim on Facebook.
“He took part in this act to have his drug charges reduced,” Burch said of the victim, explaining that Cross is the youngest child in a large family and is “somewhat immature.” He pointed to Cross’ good deeds at Niles High School, including establishing the Drug-Free Players.
“It’s a terrible fall from grace,” Burch said. “It’s not over yet. He can do some good in the end.”
Cross also spoke before he was handed his sentence, apologizing to the victim, his and the victim’s families, the community and the NPD.
“This is a good community to live in and the police department shouldn’t be marked,” he said.
Cross said that his good reputation was torn down “in a matter of minutes.”
“I’m going to come out and be a good, productive member of this community,” Cross said through tears.
Judge Scott Schofield noted that he received several letters from the community regarding the case.
“I respect the opinions of these people,” he said. “The harm to your victim has been profound. I suspect he will remember this for the rest of his life.”
The maximum number of years Cross will be allowed to serve is 15, but he may be released after five years. Schofield also recommended counseling in prison.
Burch said he was “disappointed” with Cross’ sentence.
“He’s a pretty strong young man,” Burch said.
Editor’s note: Leader Publications does not print the names of sexual abuse victims.
Tags: Ivery Cross