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Autistic man sentenced for sexual misconduct

Published 8:34am Monday, August 18, 2014

As he was being escorted from the courtroom by bailiffs to begin serving the jail sentence he was given moments earlier, Tanis Demler struggled to keep his composure, taking a final glance at his loved ones who lined the three pews
behind him.

His family made no such efforts, with many of them openly weeping as the officers led him to the holding area behind judge’s bench.

“We love you Tanis,” one of them shouted.

Cass County Judge Michael Dodge sentenced Demler, 19, of Edwardsburg, to one year in jail for third-degree criminal sexual conduct on Friday. Demler previously appeared in court on July 14, where he pleaded guilty to the charge.

According to the court, the charge stems from an incident that occurred on Aug. 13, 2012. On that day, the then 17-year-old man performed an act of oral sex on a 10-year-old boy, Dodge said.

“Although he was chronologically 10 years old, his [mental] capacity was estimated to be only 4 to 7 years of age, so he had some limitations and difficulties” Dodge said.

Demler himself has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, but a representative with the Michigan Center For Forensic Psychiatry determined that he was competent to face prosecution, the judge said.

“From the presentence report and from your comments to me this morning it seems pretty clear that you have the ability to recognize right from wrong,” Dodge said.

In light of the circumstances of the case, the Cass County Prosecutor’s Office worked out a deal with Demler, recommending that to the judge that he serve the minimum term in jail for his crime.

“We have taken into account, in crafting the resolution for this case, his age, his capabilities and his mental health history,“ said Assistant Prosecutor Kirk Metzger. “While there are significant concerns in regards to his lack of insight and personality functioning, he is not a high risk threat of reoffending.”

Before handing down his sentencing, Dodge stated that he felt sympathy for both Demler’s and the victim’s families for the long-term effects this case will have on both.

“There isn’t a whole lot the court can do to wipe this away and make it all good for both sides,” Dodge said.

Demler will receive 222 days credit for time already served. He is also required to register as sex offender.

Also sentenced Friday were:

• Brandon Robert Bradley, 25, of Edwardsburg, to two years of probation for marijuana related charges.

• Paris Pierre Banks, 21, of Elkhart, to two years in prison for attempted home invasion.

• Jami Russell Land, 37, of Three Rivers, to five years in prison for assault with a dangerous weapon and home invasion.

• Andres Contreras McClain, 19, of Jones, to 150 days in jail for failure to comply with the Michigan Sex Offender Registration Act.

• Robert Deshawn Goodwin, 20, of Elkart, to two years in prison for attempted home invasion.

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