Niles man harassed children at library
Published 8:59 am Tuesday, April 9, 2019
NILES — A Niles man who fondled himself in front of two children at the library will face time in prison for the crime.
Roger Wayne Schaber, 67, of the 500 block of Cherry Street, in Niles, was charged with distributing sexually explicit material visually or verbally and assault and battery. He pleaded guilty to the charges Feb. 19.
On Monday, in Berrien County Trial Court, Judge Charles LaSata sentenced Schaber to serve 24 to 36 months in prison for the first charge and 63 days in jail for the second. Schaber has credit for 63 days served.
The incident leading to his arrest occurred at approximately 2:47 p.m. Dec. 4 at the Niles District Library. According to testimony from assistant prosecuting attorney Jane Wainwright, Schaber spotted two girls, a 12- and 13-year-old, as they were studying at the library. He sat down near them and then moved to their table and began fondling himself. Schaber then followed them when they got up to leave. Finally, he touched the hair of one of the girls, Wainwright said.
A video of the incident was captured and shown to the judge for reference.
“His record shows he’s a predator. What he did in this incident shows he’s a predator,” Wainwright said. “He’s a danger to the public and to our children. There’s only one place for him, which is prison.”
Wainwright noted that Schaber has a criminal record, including two prior criminal sexual conduct convictions from 2002 and an indecent exposure conviction from 1993. She asked the judge to impose a sentence on the higher end of the punishment guidelines.
One of the victim’s mothers attested to the distress the crime had caused her child.
“You disgust me,” she said to Schaber. “She has nightmares still to this day. It is something she will remember for the rest of her life. She’s worried about going to the library because she doesn’t know what’s going to happen.”
Schaber was represented by defense attorney Carrie Briseno who said she wanted to convey that her client was apologetic. Briseno recommended treatment to help Schaber “move on from these actions.”
For his part, Schaber said he wanted to apologize.
“I’m very sorry — very, very sorry,” Schaber said. “I wish I could erase what I did. I need some help. Prison is not going to help me.”
LaSata said Schaber had preyed on the two victims. He described how as the incident unfolded, the girls began texting each other, trying to determine how to escape the situation.
“I could just tell how threatened the girls felt,” LaSata said. “They did not know what to do. They were sitting across from each other and texting, ‘what do we do?’ ‘What is this guy doing?’ That’s an indication of how frightened they were. They didn’t want to vocalize their concern.”
LaSata said he felt that court guideline recommendations for a prison sentence were fair.
“There are certain places where everyone should feel safe,” LaSata said. “Everyone should feel safe at the hospital and their school and at church. Those are sacred places, where we all should be able to go and not be victimized.”