CSC case headed to trial.

January 11, 2021

Mallard appears in 27th Circuit Court from the Oceana County Jail via Zoom video conferencing.

CSC case headed to trial.

By Allison Scarbrough, Editor.

HART — One of two Muskegon men facing charges of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) in connection to a child trafficking investigation conducted by a multi-jurisdictional task force including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) appeared in 27th Circuit Court via Zoom due to COVID-19 precautions from the Oceana County Jail Monday, Jan. 11.

Robert Iree Mallard, 23, appeared with his attorney, James Marek, before Judge Robert D. Springstead for a pretrial hearing. Mallard faces one count of first-degree CSC.

Mallard’s case is scheduled to go to trial May 12 and 13. A status conference is set for April 5. 

 “This is a rather massive case involving multiple defendants and victims,” previously said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon. “It has received a lot of publicity. 

Also charged in the case is Dwight Bernard McKinney, 17, who faces three counts of first-degree CSC. McKinney waived his preliminary exam in 78th District Court, and his case has been bound over to circuit court, said Bizon. 

The massive investigation began July 23 at 6:30 a.m. when an Oceana County sheriff’s deputy was dispatched to a Grant Township residence, Oceana County Sheriff Craig Mast previously said.

The girl’s father saw what appeared to be a man’s legs in his daughter’s bed, July 23. The male ran from the residence, and the dad called police. That incident prompted an investigation that the girl was sexually assaulted by several men. Evidence was uncovered indicating that the men would sneak out through the bedroom window and give the girl alcohol and drugs while sexually assaulting her. Evidence also indicated that the girl would sneak out of the house through her bedroom window and leave with the men. The girl was allegedly threatened if she told anyone, police said, because there were videos she wouldn’t want anyone to see.

The defense attorney, Marek, said his client also faces a CSC case in Muskegon County, which  is “the controlling case” of the two. The Muskegon County case is also going to trial, he said.

“The investigation overturned substantial amounts of evidence implicating the suspects,” said Sheriff Mast previously. “The investigation snowballed.”

A task force involving both sheriff’s offices from Oceana and Muskegon counties, the Michigan State Police and the FBI are involved.

“The MSP is further investigating this incident, and the trafficking task force is involved,” previously said Det./Sgt. Matt Nobliski.

“This is a fairly large investigation,” Nobliski said. “Our involvement came back on the 23rd of July. It involves multiple counties. We’re all working to bring it to a successful investigation and prosecution.”

Mallard remains lodged in the Oceana County Jail on a $75,000/cash/surety/10 percent bond, Bizon said. McKinney was released from jail after posting a $75,000/cash/surety bond.

McKinney’s first attorney wanted a mental competency examination, Bizon said. His new attorney is withdrawing that request. That is why his case is delayed.

First-degree CSC is punishable by up to life in prison.

Two other suspects were arrested and arraigned in Muskegon County’s 60th District Court. 

Jermaine Lamar Chapman, 24, of Muskegon was charged with one count of first-degree CSC and one count of child sexually abusive material possession in one file and and one count of second-degree CSC in a separate case. Quonteravious Moffett, 19, of Muskegon faces one count of third-degree CSC.

The male who fled the home when startled by the father was a 16-year-old who was not accused of any crimes.

The girl met one of the suspects through social media.

The July 23 incident “opened up a can of worms,” Sheriff Mast said.

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