Sturgis man sentenced to 30 to 60 years for sexual abuse

CASSOPOLIS — Shaking and with red eyes as though he were crying, Sturgis resident Samuel Ralph Thieme apologized in the Cass County Circuit courtroom Friday.

“I am sorry,” he said. “I know what I did was wrong.”

Thieme, 27, of the 200 block of Park Street in Sturgis, was sentenced to 30 to 60 years for first degree criminal sexual conduct with a minor under 13 years of age, a charge he pleaded guilty to at a March 7 court appearance.

The charges stem from numerous incidents taking place in Penn Township. Thieme sexually abused young relatives of his for years; one of his relatives was still in diapers when he started molesting her.

The charge carries a minimum sentence, but prosecuting attorney Thomas Hubbert argued for the eventual sentence of 30 to 60 years, pointing to the effect that Thieme’s actions had on his victims. According to victim impact statements including in the presentence investigation report, Thieme’s victims suffer from depression and one victim has attempted suicide and self-mutilation in the past as a result of her sexual abuse.

“This happened over a number of years and is very concerning,” Hubbert said. “Taking into account the victims’ impact statements, this is going to have an impact on [them] for the rest of their lives. … All these things are directly related to the abusive treatment they received from the defendant.”

Though Thieme told investigators that he also was sexually abused in his youth, Hubbert said that does not excuse his actions.

“This is an unfortunate cycle that is continuing,” Hubbert said. “Now his victims are going to have to live with this for the rest of their lives, as well. Based on his actions, now his victims are going to have to deal with this forever.”

At sentencing, a relative of Thieme’s, Georgia Thieme, made a statement asking the court to take mercy on Thieme.

“We ask that he does get therapy and help,” Georgia said.

Thieme said that he expressed great remorse over the incidents of sexual abuse against his relatives. He added that he had searched for help for years, but that when he Googled how to get help, he learned that he would go to prison for his crimes.

“I got scared,” Thieme said. “I’m not trying to say that I’m not a terrible guy, I am. … But it’s not been an easy road for me either, which is why I would like to get therapy.”

Cass County Circuit Court Judge Mark Herman advised Thieme that there will be programs available in prison to help him.

“What you went through does not mitigate the impact you had on your victims,” Herman said to Thieme. “I hope that we can identify what your problems are and get you some help.”

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Berrien County reports additional COVID-19 death

Dowagiac

Dowagiac restaurateur arrested on criminal sexual conduct charges

Buchanan

Bike Buchanan pedals last ride of season

Buchanan

Caring Circle Services relocating to Niles

Dowagiac

SMC Board of Trustees devotes day to long-range planning

Cass County

Cass County COA celebrates veterans with online photo, story project

Berrien County

Salvation Army seeks volunteers for annual campaign

Buchanan

Buchanan Field of Dreams Dog Park gets 10 new trees

News

Niles gives marijuana consumption centers the green light

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 164,274 cases, 7,239 deaths

Buchanan

Buchanan commissioners say goodbye to leaders, prepare for future

Dowagiac

Dowagiac receives USDA grant

Local Government

City council gives approval of funding for homeless aid, city administrator raise

Dowagiac

Dowagiac City Council encourages safe trick-or-treating

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Fire Department wins second straight Battle of The Badges blood drive

Berrien County

SMCAS seeks third wheelchair transport van

Dowagiac

Dowagiac Middle/Union High School report positive COVID-19 cases

Berrien County

COVID-19 UPDATE: Michigan reports 161,907 cases, 7,211 deaths

Cass County

Lewis Cass ISD superintendent announces retirement

Edwardsburg

DAR marks grave

Buchanan

Buchanan celebrates ‘Nicest Place in America’ honor Saturday

Dowagiac

Honor Credit Union gives back

News

MDHHS issues Emergency Order updating requirements for residential care facilities to allow for indoor visitation

Breaking News

Saturday morning shooting causes property damage in downtown Niles