Wednesday, October 6, 1999

Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman - Trial - Port Huron

Also See:

Port Huron Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman - charged for sexual assaults [April 07, 1999]

Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman - Trial for CSC [October 06, 1999]

Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman - Sentenced for exposure [October 26, 1999]

Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman: Re-Trial [May 02, 2000]

Port Huron Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman sentenced for CSC [June 16, 2000]

         


2nd trial scheduled for ex-Michigan mayor
The Blade
Toledo, Ohio
October 30, 1999

Port Huron, Mich. - A former mayor will be tried again in February on at least some of the felony counts that jurors could not reach verdicts on as they convicted him of exposing himself to nine underage girls.

The second trial of Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman is to begin Feb. 23, St. Clair County Circuit Court officials said yesterday.

Ackerman was sentenced Tuesday to a year in jail after jurors convicted him of nine counts of indecent exposure. Jurors couldn't reach verdicts on eight counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, six counts of felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of felony child sexually abusive activity.
 













Former Michigan Mayor Convicted on Indecent Exposure Counts
October 27, 1999
Jim Burns

(CNSNews.com) - An eastern Michigan jury convicted a former mayor of Port Huron Tuesday on nine indecent exposure charges, but the jury couldn't reach a verdict on the 16 felony sexual misconduct charges.

After the verdict, Judge Peter Deegan immediately sentenced former Port Huron Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman to one year in prison on the nine misdemeanor counts that will be served concurrently. Ackerman, 42, had no visible reaction when the verdicts were read.

The allegations against Ackerman, once hailed as a role model who used his story of how he overcame drug and alcohol addictions to motivate others, involved 11 girls, ranging in age from 8 to 15.

When the judge asked if he would like to make a statement, Ackerman responded, " I don't understand why I'm being treated different, prior to these allegations, there is no history of me ever having a problem with children."

The jury reached the verdicts after more than 15 hours of deliberation over four days.

One woman started to cry when she heard the sentence, and the judge ordered her and three other women to leave the courtroom. As she was escorted out by a deputy sheriff, she screamed obscenities.

Saint Clair County, Michigan prosecutor Peter George said after the verdict, "Although the jury was not able to unanimously agree that Mr. Ackerman committed criminal sexual conduct, we believe Mr. Ackerman is accountable for those counts and we expect to strenuously pursue those charges in retrial."

Assistant County Prosecutor Mona Armstrong added that a retrial could come as early as January.

Ackerman was mayor of Port Huron, Michigan in November 1997 and resigned in April 1999, one day after the first charges against him were filed.

While Mayor, Ackerman initiated programs that once earned him the title of "Michigan Public Citizen of the Year."











Ex-mayor convicted on sex charges
The Tuscaloosa News
Joseph Altman Jr.
Associated Press
October 27, 1999

Port Huron, Mich [AP] - Port Huron's tattooed, motorcycle-riding former mayor, once hailed as a role model for overcoming drugs and alcohol, was convicted Tuesday of exposing himself to nine underage girls.

Judge Peter Deegan immediately sentenced Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman, 42, to a year in prison on the nine counts of indecent exposure.

The jury couldn't reach verdicts on 16 other counts of sexual misconduct.

"This conviction on these counts has nothing to do, Mr. Ackerman, with what you've done for this community. ...You could have won the Nobel Prize for Peace and if you would have acted this way this sentence would be the same," Deegan said.

The allegations involved 11 girls ages 8 to 15. In one instance, three girls - 9, 11, and 13 - testified they were together when Ackerman told them to take off their clothes and then performed oral sex on them.

Ackerman testified that he did nothing sexaully inappropriate to any of his under age accusers. He acknowledge two affairs with teen-agers - who were not among his accusers - and said there was a possibility that four girls could have seen him exposed accidently.

Ackerman, who once sported a ponytail, leather clothes and tattoos, was named Michigan Public Citizen of the Year in 1994.

He was elected mayor of Port Huon three years later and resigned in April, one day after charges were filed.

Before he was escorted from court in handcuff Monday, Ackerman told the judge: "I'm willing to accept my convictions ... I spent 12 years in this community doing everything I could to contribute. I've helped numerous children in this community over a number of years."

Prosecutor Peter George said he expects to retry Ackerman on the 16 other charges.
 
 











Ex-mayor's jury split on sex charges
The Blade
Toledo, ohio
October 27, 1999

Port Huron, Mich [AP] - This city's tattooed, motorcycle-riding former mayor, once hailed as a role model for overcoming drugs and alcohol, was convicted yesterday of exposing himself to nine underage girls.

Judge Peter Deegan immediately sentenced Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman, 42, to a year in prison on the nine counts of indecent exposure.

The jury couldn't reach verdicts on 16 other counts of sexual misconduct on 16 other counts, including eight counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, six counts of felony second-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of felony child sexually abusive activity.

The former mayor, 42, showed no reaction when the verdicts were read. he could have faced up to life in prison if he had been convicted of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The allegations involved 11 girls ages 8 to 15.

St. Clair County Prosecutor Peter George said the former mayor will be tried again on the criminal sexual conduct charges. A retrial could be as early as January, assistant prosecutor Mona Armstrong said.











Jurors finish second day of deliberations with no verdict
Argus-Press
October 24, 1999

Port Huron, Mich [AP] - Jurors deliberated more than five hours Saturday without reaching a verdict on the criminal sexual conduct charges against former mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman.

The jury, comprised of seven women and give men, asked to have portions of testimony re-read to them during the deliberations Saturday. They are scheduled to hear more testimony when deliberations resume Monday.

Assistant Prosecutor Mona Armstrong said she is encouraged by the portions of testimony the jurors asked to re-hear. The jury also asked to have the jury instructions read again.

Defense attorney Kenneth Lord declined comment.

The jury was scheduled to deliberate until 4 p.m., but worked nearly a half hour late.

The 42-year-old Ackerman faces 16 felony charges and nine misdemeanors, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct and indecent exposure. If convicted, he faces life in prison on the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Ackerman was arrested in April after a Port Huron police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in St. Clair County. He resigned from the mayor's job a day later.

St. Clair County Judge Peter Deegan rewarded the jurors for conducting deliberations on a Saturday by treating them to lunch.

 



















Jurors deliberate fate of former mayor in sex case
The Argus-Press
Owosso, Michigan
October 23, 1999

Port Huron, Mich. [AP] - The jury considering criminal sexual conduct charges against former mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman deliberated seven hours Friday without reaching a verdict.

The jury is scheduled to resume deliberations Saturday morning. On Friday, the jury asked to review portions of court transcripts.

Ackerman, 42, faces 16 felony charges and nine misdemeanors, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct and indecent exposure. If convicted, he faces life in prison on the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Ackerman was arrested in April after a Port Huron police investigation into allegations of sexual abuse in St. Clair County. He resigned from the mayor's job a day later.

Ackerman used the story of his struggle with drug and alcohol abuse to help others overcome their problems. He iniated programs that once earned him Michigan Public Citizen of the Year.

 











Michigan Ex-Mayor Claims Pants Falling Was Accident
October 20, 1999
Jim Burns
http://cnsnews.com/news/article/michigan-ex-mayor-claims-pants-falling-was-accident

(CNSNews.com) - Former Port Huron, Michigan Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman testified in a Michigan circuit court that he had affairs with two young women and that his pants fell down, accidentally, several times at the youth center that he ran. Ackerman, however, denied molesting any girls.

Ackerman is being tried on 25 counts of criminal sexual conduct against 12 girls ranging in age from 8 to 16.He has denied the criminal charges.

The former mayor testified that on four occasions his pants accidentally fell down in front of children. But he insisted the incidents were accidental.

Ackerman described one time when his shorts fell. "I was playing Ping Pong with (one of the alleged victims). The button on my shorts was broken; the shorts started to fall. But I immediately pulled them back up."

The former Port Huron mayor also said the zipper and button on the shorts had been broken for some time before the incident. He also testified that he wasn't wearing underwear at the time.

Assistant Saint Clair County, Michigan prosecutor Mona Armstrong asked Ackerman, "You knew those shorts were broken, yet you still wore them around children without any underwear. Did you ever say to yourself 'Maybe I should wear underwear?' Ackerman replied, "yes."

Armstrong also questioned Ackerman at length about his admitted sexual relationships with two high school girls. Both young women were above the age of consent, 17, when the relationships took place. But Circuit Judge Peter Deegan allowed the testimony after Armstrong argued that Ackerman's liaisons with the two girls demonstrated a pattern of behavior.

Ackerman acknowledged "with great pain that those relationships were inappropriate. It essentially ruined my life, I was a married man."

Kenneth Lord, Ackerman's attorney, objected to the amount of time spent questioning the former mayor about his relationships with the young women.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations Friday.











Some charges against former mayor dismissed
The Argus-Press
Owosso, Michigan
October 20, 1999

Port Huron, Mich. [AP] - A judge has thrown out two charges against former Mayor Gerald 'Ajax" Ackerman and reduced two other charges.

Ackerman still faces 16 felony counts and nine misdemeanors, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct and indecent exposure. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Circuit Judge Peter Deegan on Tuesday granted defense motions to dismiss one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and a misdemeanor charge of furnishing obscenity to children, saying testimony did not support the charges.

Deegan also reduced two first-degree criminal sexual conduct counts to second-degree counts.

Earlier Tuesday, a woman who volunteered at dances at the former mayor's youth center testified that she never saw him act inappropriately in front of minors.

Magaret Drews, who took the witness stand for Ackerman's defense, said she sometimes paid unannounced visits to the center and never saw Ackerman expose himself or do anything to make her feel uncomfortable.

Defense lawyers fof Ackermean, accused of sexual misconduct with girls ages 8 to 15, began presenting their case Tuesday as his trial stretched into its third week.

Ackerman, 42, will take the stand this week, defense attorney Kenneth Lord said.

He said the defense could finish its case Thursday and closing arguments could be held as early as Friday.

 
 










Girl testifies former Port Huron mayor repeatedly abused her
The Argus-Press
Owosso, Michigan
October 15, 1999

Port Huron, Mich. [AP] - Jurors in the trial of the city's former mayor have heard testimony from all of his accusers, including a 9-year-old girl who said the man had sex with her when she was 8.

Thursday, the 9-year-old testified that Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman performed oral sex on her and touched her genitals, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported. She also testified that Ackerman had sex with her while a 13-year-old and an 11-year-old - who also accused Ackerman of sexual contact - were in the room.

St. Clair County Assistant Prosecutor Mona Armstrong asked the 9-year-old how the alleged activity made her feel.

"It was sad," she said, responding to a series of questions, "Because it was scary."

Ackerman, 42, is charged with 17 felony counts and 10 misdemeanors, including indecent exposure, first-degree criminal sexual conduct and furnishing obscene material to minors. First-degree criminal sexual conduct is punishable by up to life in prison.

On Thursday, Mrs. Armstrong called seven witnesses to the stand, Port Huron radio station WPHM reported. She said the prosecution expects to rest today. The defense then could begin calling an expected 20 witnesses.

During Thursday's cross-examination, defense attorney Kenneth Lord said that two experts who examined the same girl two days apart had completely different findings. One said there was evidence of sexual assault while the other found no such evidence.

The prosecution has called about 40 witnesses to the stand sicne the trial began last week.

On Wednesday, a 13-year-old girl testified that Ackerman repeatedly sexually abused her, but said she kept quiet about the alleged abuse because she was afraid of him.

The girl's testimony came a day after two girls testified that they once had consensual sexual relationships with Ackerman.
 
 
 












         




Three girls say they lied to police about Port Huron Mayor
Argus-Press
Owosso, Michigan
October 13, 1999

Port Huron, Mich. [AP] - A 10-year-old girl testified that she lied about the city's former mayor exposing himself to her because she said she wanted to come to court with her older sister, who also alleges the man abused her.

The 10-year-old was among three witnesses who testified Tuesday that they lied when questioned by police following Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman's April arrest, the Detroit News reported.

Ackerman, 42, is charged with 17 felony counts and 10 misdemeanors, including nine for indecent exposure. The charges range in severity from first-degree criminal sexual conduct, punishable by up to life in priosn, to furnishing obscene material to minors, which carries a 90-day sentence.

"I wanted to be there with my sister so she wouldn't have to go through this alone," the 10-year-old testfied Tuesday.

A 19-year-old said she lied to police on three occasions because she loved Ackerman and wanted to protect him.

The girl, who was 17 at the time of the alleged abuse, said Tuesday that Ackerman last year gave her a bag containing pornographic video-tapes.

She had told police that she threw the tapes away last fal. But under cross-examination Tuesdays she said she got rid of them the week after Ackerman's arrest.

She said she lied because she didn't want to get Ackerman in any more trouble.

A third girl testified Tuesday that she originally told police that Ackerman hadn't abused her because she "didn't feel like talking about it."

Last week, seven young witnesses testified that Ackerman had exposed himself to them. The trial, which began last week, is expected to last two weeks.
 

       









6 youths say ex-mayor exposed himself to them
The Blade
Toledo, Ohio
October 09, 1999
Port Huron, Mich - Ex-Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman's child sex abuse tgrial conntinued yesterday, with six young witnesses testifying that the former mayor exposed himself to them.

On the second day of testimony in Mr. Ackerman's trial on sex charges, four girls - two 12-year-olds and two 15-year-olds - said they had seen his overalls fall down, exposing his genitals.

Another 15-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy testified that the former mayor's genitals were exposed, because he wore his overalls loosely.














         

Ex-Mayor on trial on sex charges
The Blade
Toledo, Ohio
October 8, 1999

Port Huron, Mich. - This city's former mayor - on trial on sex charges - was a manipulator who "weeded out children who would be receptive to his sexual advances," a prosecutor told jurors yesterday.

"This case is about the utmost manipulation of children to meet one's ends," Mona Armstrong, an assistant St. Clair County prosecutor, said in the trial of Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman.

Mr. Ackerman, 42, is charged with 17 felony counts and nine misdemeanors, including eight for alleged indecent exposure.
 












         



Jury selection to begin Wednesday in trial of former Port Huron mayor
The Argus-Press
Owosso, Michigan
Alexa R. Moses
Associated Press
October 05, 1999

Port Huron's former, flamboyant mayor, who initiated programs that once earned him Michigan Public Citizen of the Year, goes to trial this week on allegations of sexual misconduct involving children.

In what was considered a sort of Cinderella story, Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman was hailed as a role model, using the story of his struggle with drug and alcohol abuse to help others overcome their problems.

His popularity earned him the most votes in the November 1997 City Council election, giving him the ceremonial role of mayor.

"When we all became acquainted with him and he ran for office it was an example, we though, of how someone can rehabilitate himself," said Port Huron Police Chief William Corbett. "This guy seemed like a true success story."

Jury selection begins Wednesday in Ackerman's trial on charges involving 11 girls ages eight to 15. He's charges with 17 felony counts and nine misdemeanors, including eight for indecent exposure. Final motions are scheduled to be heard on Tuesday.

Ackerman was arrested in April. He resigned from the mayor's job a day later.

The charges left the conservative city which one embraced the tattoed, motorcycle-riding mayor at a loss.

"If you hypothetically look at this case, here's a guy who struggled back, did well with himself. It's a very unfortunate thing that in the midst of gaining his credibility that this would come forth and destroy his effort," said Port Huron Mayor Steven Miller. "If he turns out to be guilty, then it's a whole different matter. That'll speak for itself."

Said Corbett: "It was extremely disappointing to all of use. I considered him a friend."

He says the allegations have yielded mixed feelings.

"I think there are two camps really. There are those that think it couldn't possibly be true...and there are those that are very upset about it," Corbett said.

Ackerman is out on bond and still visible in the city, something that concerns 39-year-old Carey Little.

"He's quite free and lackadaisical about it," said Little, a cook at the Cavis Grill. "The big issue is the safety of the kids...

"Everybody talks about it," he added. "I think the public thinks he's guilty."

Ackerman's attlorney, Kenneth Lord said his client knows that despite the credo of innocent until proven guilty, many people see it as the opposite.

"He knows he's up against that," Lord said. But he said support for Ackerman is coming back.

"His attitude was fairly upbeat," he said.

St. Clair County Assistant Prosecutor Mona Armstrong said because of the media coverage of the case, it could take longer than usual to select a jury. But she didn't expect it to be impossible to find jurors.

"We are comfortable and confident in the fact that we will find a fair an impartial jury among the people of St. Clair County," Ms. Armstrong said. "Someone who's heard about the case but hasn't formed an opinion can still sit on a jury."

Lord said the prosecution has 61 witnesses and the defense has about 21 so far. He said Ackerman plans to take the stand.

Miller said now, it is up to a jury to consider the allegations against Ackerman, who after a tumultuous early life, pulled himself up, put himself through college and made several community contributions, including work at a mental health center and an HIV/AIDS clinic.

"The stake of his life is with the judge and jury," he said.
 

         









Ex-mayor's trial slated on child sex charges
The Blade
Toledo, Ohio
August 04, 1999

Port Huron, Mich. [AP] - Former Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman's trial on sexual misconduct charges has been scheduled for Oct. 12.

Mr. Ackerman could face life in prison on the charges, which include 17 felony counts. He is charged with nine misdemeanors, including eight for indecent exposure.

The allegations involve 11 girls ages eight to 15.