Tuesday, May 2, 2000

Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman: Re-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]


Film seizure constitutional
The Argus-Press
Owosso, Michigan
June 14, 2001
Detroit [AP] - A St. Clair County judge acted properly in seizing film and denying Times Herald photographers access to jurors, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled.

The ruling released Wednesday stems from St. Clair County Circuit Court Judge Peter Deegan's order on May 12, 2000, barring photographs of jurors leaving the highly publicized rape trial of former Port Huron Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman.

Deegan asked that photographers allow jurors to leave the court premises before approaching them. Deegan contended the jurors were entitled to privacy because they had been compelled by the court to appear. All 12 jurors declined to meet with the media after the trial.

Mark Rummel and Tony Pitts, photographers for the Times Herald of Port Huron were arrested outside the St. Clair County Courthouse on May 12 and their film was seized as they tried to take photographs in the aftermath of Ackerman's trial.

The Times Herald said the judge's limits on photographing the jurors did not include necessary time and geographic boundaries.

In a 3-0 decision, Court of Appeals judges Richard A. Bandstra, Richard Allen Griffin, and Jeffrey G. Collins ruled the order was not overboard. The court said such restrictions are permissible provided they are narrowly tailored to serve a government interest and there are alternative channels of communication.

Since the media had an opportunity to view jurors during the trial and the jurors' names were publicized, the appeals court ruled the media's access was not impeded.

"The order was adequately tailored to satisfy the limited purposed of maintaining the decorum of the court and the temporary privacy of the jurors," the order stated. "Jurors are entitled to privacy and to protection against harassment even after completing their service."

Times Herald executive editor Denise Richter said she was disappointed, but not surprised, by the court's decision. She wasn't sure what additional steps the paper might take.

"We are still examining our options to see where we'll take the case next," Ritcher said.

Bill Fealko, who argued the case on behalf of the prosecutor's office, said he was pleased with the decision.

"To me, it's been a pretty straightforward issue," Fealko said. "This is something the court compels citizens to do. Jurors do have a right to leave a courthouse after their service without being denied some breathing space. I would hope that this would be the final resolution to the matter."

The newspaper also had argued that the arrests and seizure of film without an hearing violated the photographers' First Amendment due process rights and the First Amendment right of freedom of the press.

But the appeals court sided with Deegan, saying the seisure of the film was justified because "the photographs were obtained unlawfully in a deliberate violation of a rule of court."

Retrial of former mayor resumes
The Argus-Press
Owosso, Michigan
May 09, 2000
Port Huron, Mich. [AP] - A jury in the retrial of the city's former mayor will have to weigh some inconsistancies in the testimonies of the girls he is accused of molesting, experts say.

Two of the three girls who accuse Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman of molesting them testified on Friday. The third girl, a 10-year-old, was expected to testify today.

Ackerman is being retried on 10 counts of felony child molestation, which include five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, after a jury could not reach a verdict last October. That jury did convict Ackerman of nine counts of indecent exposure.

Both in the original trial and in Friday's testimony, parts of the girls' stories changed from their earlier statements and differed from each other's accounts.

Damaging testimony given against ex-Port Huron mayor
Ludington Daily News
May 06, 2000

Port Huron, Mich [AP] - A 20-year-old woman testified that Port Huron's former mayor father her child while he and his wife were helping her kick a drug habit at the counseling center he founded.

The Port Huron woman was one of 12 witnesses to testify Thursday at Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman's trial on 10 counts of felony child molestation. The trial continued Friday before St. Clair County Circuit Judge Peter Deegan.

Ackerman is being retried on the charges, which include five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, after a jury could not reach a verdict last October. That jury did convict the former mayor of nine counts of indecent exposure; since then, he has served a one-year sentence in the Macomb County Jail.

The 20-year-old woman testified that the son she bore in May 1999 was the result of a sexual relationship she and Ackerman had mainly at Clear Choices, the youth center he founded in 1995.

"I was very vulnerable at this time in my life and let others make decisions for me," she said. "I was just coming off drugs, and I don't know that I had full mental capacity."


Retrial under way for former mayor
Man denies touching young girls
The Blade
Toledo, Ohio
May 03, 2000

Port Huron, Mich. [AP] - Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman, sans the long hair and beard he wore as mayor, stood silent in court yesterday as jury selection began in his retrial on sex charges involving three young girls.

Mr. Ackerman faces 10 counts of sexual misconduct, including five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Mr. Ackerman's court-appointed attorney, Sharon Parrish, said she expects Mr. Ackerman will again take the stand to defend himself against the charges.

Mr. Ackerman faces three second-degree criminal sexual conduct charges and two counts of child sexually abusive activity. The charges involve a then-8-year-old and then-12-year-old girls.

In October, Mr. Ackerman was found guilty of nine counts of indecent exposure and was sentenced to one year in jail. Mr. Ackerman is appealing the indecent exposure convictions.

Mr. Ackerman resigned as mayor in April 1999, a day after his arrest. Police and prosecutors said he molested girls Clear Choices, a defunct youth center he founded, between August, 1998, and March 1999.

During his first trial, Mr. Ackerman said he had sexual liaisons with teens as young as 17 and 18 at the center, but denied he touched young girls.

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.

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