Niles man sentenced to nine to 15 years for criminal sexual conduct

NILES – A Niles resident is going to prison after being convicted of criminal sexual conduct.

Jacob Allan Ross, 29, of Niles, pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal sexual conduct and was sentenced Monday in Berrien County Trial Court to nine to 15 years in prison. He has credit for 200 days already served and must pay $198 in fines and costs. He must also register as a sex offender.

The incident occurred last year on Sept. 16, 2020, at a residence in Niles Township when he assaulted a woman living in the same household where he lived.

Defense attorney Kaitlin Locke noted that Ross has never received any substance abuse assessment or treatment in his past encounters with the criminal justice system. She said Ross’ mother was a drug addict and his father had served time in prison.

“The presentence report makes it seem like he is minimizing his behavior, and that’s not the impression I got from speaking to him,” she said. “He takes full responsibility for his action. He’s never spent more time in jail that he has here.”

She asked Berrien County Trial Judge Sterling Schrock to sentence her client to five or seven years in prison which would be below or at the low end of the sentencing guidelines.

“He knows he deserves some time, but he needs counseling and rehabilitation and treatment for his substance abuse,” she said.

“I believe that can be completed in much less than nine years,” she added. “The minimum sentence is seven years and I’d ask for five years but at least 84 months.”

“I want to take full responsibility for my actions,” Ross said before the sentencing. “I apologize to the victim and I hope she can forgive me some day.”

Judge Schrock said he was mindful of Ross’ prior record.

“I understand his upbringing could be a reason for that, but there are consequences for his behavior,” he said.

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