Berrien County man sentenced to 25 years for pedophilia
By DEBRA HAIGHT
Niles Daily Star contributor
NILES — A Berrien Springs man who has admitted to being a pedophile is going to prison for the next 25 years.
Wayne Churchill Labins, 52, of Cass Street in Berrien Springs, pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct against a victim under age 13 and was sentenced Tuesday in Berrien County Trial Court to a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison.
Berrien County Trial Judge Angela Pasula sentenced Labins to a prison term of 25 to 75 years. He has credit for 89 days already served and must pay $1,748 in fines and costs. He must register as a sex offender and be on lifetime GPS monitoring.
The incident occurred Oct. 5 at a residence on Third Street in Berrien Springs when he sexually assaulted a 6-year-old girl. Labins also acknowledged touching the girl inappropriately several times over the past year.
“The report indicates that you are friends with the family and are like an uncle to the 6-year-old victim,” Judge Pasula said. “You went into the bedroom with the girl while her father fell asleep. This was a very significant violation of the little girl.”
Pasula noted that Labins has a 1993 criminal sexual conduct conviction in California.
“You left a good paying job in California to come to Michigan for ministry work,” she said. “This gives me pause. You made a video about how to keep children safe from predators at the same time you were grooming this girl.”
“I still see a lack of acceptance of responsibility for the choices you made,” she said. “This was not beyond your control. Staying away from children, that’s a choice. You’re making tapes about staying away from children but not willing to do that yourself. You’re hiding behind the veil of religion.”
Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Vigansky called Labins a clear danger to children and the community. Defense attorney Scott Sanford said that Labins has never shirked responsibility for his actions and sees his prison sentence as an opportunity to minister to other inmates.
“This shouldn’t have happened,” Labins said. “I’ve been working on my recovery for 24 years and I’m angry at myself that I did this. God is the best accountability partner and I stepped away from my God. In the last year, I did not have the strength to avoid this situation.”
In other sentencings, a Berrien Springs man was sentenced to probation after breaking into a home while the family was attending a high school football game.
Kamanzi Mwema Ntaganda, 47, of North Main Street in Berrien Springs, pleaded guilty to third-degree home invasion and was sentenced to three years of probation, 180 days jail, 90 days tether and $1,318 in fines and costs.
The incident occurred Oct. 21 at a home on Maplewood Drive in Berrien Springs. The victim said her 14-year-old daughter came home from the game and saw the back door open and a man fleeing. Ntaganda was identified after a security camera at the home was examined.
“This has rattled my sense of security and my daughters’,” the victim said. “This is extremely scary.”
Ntaganda apologized and blamed the incident on different customs here as compared to the Congo, where he has lived in recent years before coming back here to take care of his elderly parents.
Pasula called his statement about different customs “disingenuous” and “a really lame excuse” and noted he has three other theft related convictions.
“You clearly broke in, you were not invited, you had no right to be there,” Pasula said. “Drawers were broken into. You came to the U.S. at a young age and were raised here, you know the customs.”
A Granger youth who took part in a June home invasion at a cabin on Bachelor Island in the St. Joseph River near Buchanan is getting the chance to keep the charge off his permanent record.
Kyle Robert Tengelitsch, 20, of Granger, pleaded guilty to second-degree home invasion under the Holmes Youthful Training Act and was ordered to serve two years of probation. He must perform 50 hours of community service and pay $878 in fines, costs and restitution. If he completes all the terms, the charge will be taken off his record.
The incident occurred June 24 when he and another young man, Zachary Smith, broke into a cabin on Bachelor Island and stole some guns and other items.