Edwardsburg teen’s case compared to Niles 5Published 6:07pm Friday, February 10, 2012
CASSOPOLIS — Niles isn’t alone in technology-driven sex extortion scandals.
A 16-year-old Edwardsburg boy was sentenced to prison Friday in Cass County Court for threatening to reveal text messages from a 13-year-old girl if she didn’t perform sexual acts on him.
Cass County Circuit Court Judge Michael Dodge compared the case to the so-called “Niles 5” case that landed four Niles teenagers in prison and one in jail. Dodge then handed Andres McClain a two- to 15-year prison sentence.
“Four of the five in that (Niles 5) case got prison, so this is very serious. The court is very concerned about this kind of conduct,” Dodge said.
McClain had pleaded guilty to criminal sexual conduct second degree and CSC fourth degree for two separate incidents.
The most serious offense took place Oct. 28 at an Edwardsburg High School football game where McClain used the threat of sharing embarrassing text messages of the victim to escort her to a nearby park where it was more secluded. It was there that McClain forced the girl into oral sex and penetrated her digitally.
Prosecutor Victor Fitz said McClain used “disturbing threats” to extort the victim.
“He said he would slit her throat,” Fitz said.
The fourth degree charge stemmed from another assault of a 15-year-old girl, an attempt to grope her and reach down her pants.
Defense attorney Carol Bealor pointed to her client’s youth as a reason for the judge to depart from her client’s 51- to 85-month guideline range.
“He is just 16. Sex is out there in society, and teenagers often don’t have the mental and emotional maturity to deal with it,” she said.
She also cited McClain’s difficult upbringing with abusive parents and years spent in foster care. She said he now has a supportive adoptive family and friends, many of whom wrote letters on his behalf. The victim’s mother even asked for a lenient sentence.
Those arguments were enough for Dodge to deviate slightly from the guideline range.
McClain declined to speak at his sentencing. He will receive credit for 59 days already served.
Also sentenced for sex-crimes Friday was Dowagiac teen Gage Unger, who got 180 days in jail and five years of probation for sexually assaulting two victims under age 16. Unger, 18, will receive credit for 16 days already served.