A young woman's description of the sex abuse she suffered as a teen at the hands of a relative led a judge to add more serious charges to the list brought by prosecutors. Now, the case has been set for a jury trial in May.
Marcus Deangelo Devance, 36, Midland, first was charged in January with three counts of third-degree criminal sexual assault and an habitual fourth offender enhancement in connection with a series of sexual assaults that occurred between July 2009 and May 2010. The victim was 16 when the acts began, and 17 when they stopped.
Her testimony at a Feb. 15 preliminary hearing, conducted before Midland County District Court Judge John H. Hart, caused the judge to add an additional count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct as well as four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct to the list faced by Devance.
The maximum penalty for the third-degree charge is 15 years in prison, and the fourth offender enhancement increases that maximum to life; first-degree criminal sexual conduct is punishable by a maximum of life in prison.
At the preliminary exam, the victim described an ever worsening series of events that occurred at her home, beginning with a relative who punished her by forcing her to write sentences when she broke household rules. Then came the first in a series of bargains -- trading the sentence of writing in favor of spankings on her bare bottom, leaving her feeling "uncomfortable," she said.
The spankings turned into Devance allowing her to do things she wouldn't otherwise be able to do, such as drinking alcohol or going out with a boy, if she allowed him to perform sexual acts on her, she testified. She also said Devance came to her room while she slept, but she would push him away. Punishment, in the form of writing sentences from August to October of 2009, followed her refusal of his advances.
The victim said she wrote sentences all day and all night, recalling one occasion when Devance kept her awake and writing until 5 a.m. That led her to talk with him about the punishments, telling him that if he stopped making her write sentences she would allow him to have sex with her.
"He told me that he would give me two weeks to prove to him that I deserved it and that I would have to show him that I could do it right and after two weeks, that he would stop punishing me," she said, in response to questions from Assistant Midland County Prosecutor Joseph Amend.
She said the punishment did stop, only in return for her having sex with Devance multiple times.
By January, the victim said Devance requested that rather than him going to her, she should go to him.
"He wanted me to stop acting like I didn't want to anymore," or else the deal was off, she said. "So he wanted me to act like that's what I wanted and I would have to ask him to do it instead of him just coming to me."
"So you never really wanted to do this?" Amend asked.
"No," the victim replied.
"And it's fair to say you just did them all out of fear of punishment?" Amend asked.
"Yes," she said.
At the conclusion of the testimony, Hart noted his belief that the probable cause standard was met on the original charges as well as the five additional counts.
"The victim stated she had to do it more times than she could count," he said of the acts the victim testified about. "All of those, I believe, were by force or coercion and so he will be bound over on eight charges."
Devance stood mute during the circuit court arraignment, which Hart conducted. Devance is being held on a $500,000 cash or surety bond.
He is being represented by Midland attorney Lee Burton. The case was investigated by the Midland Police Department, and was omitted from its daily media log so it was not reported until court proceedings were under way.
The jury trial is scheduled for May 9-10 before Midland County Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Beale.
Devance previously was convicted of offenses including receiving and concealing stolen property, and three counts of delivery of controlled substances, all in Saginaw County.
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