2018-07-07 / News

Online Reports of Assault, Harassment Are Overblown, Says Police Chief

By Stephanie Fortino

While investigations into a sexual assault and harassment continue, police continue to advise people to be cautious when walking at night, to be aware of their surroundings, and to travel in groups.

Mackinac Island Police Chief Lawrence Horn updated the city council at its meeting Tuesday, July 3, saying no new complaints have been filed since several allegations were made in June.

“There have been no new reports of criminal sexual conduct since we began the in-depth investigation into these incidents,” he said. “Only one of the complaints filed has risen to the level of criminal sexual conduct, the others have been incidents of simple assault, assault, or harassingtype behavior toward women.”

Mr. Horn encouraged people to be cautious while traveling, to only walk in pairs or groups, carry flashlights or headlamps, and call 911 to report any suspicious behavior, just like they should in any other city. If people do not have someone to travel with, they can always ask a police officer to escort them home, Mr. Horn said.

He also warned against rampant misinformation that is being shared about the incidents.

“As far as social media and gossip are concerned,” he said, “very little of the information that has been circulated lately has been factual or been proven to be true. I encourage everyone to take what you hear through those forms of media with a grain of salt.”

The police department, he said, has taken the reports seriously and has logged hundreds of hours in the investigation. City police have logged 559 hours on the investigation during the last three weeks, which includes 250 hours logged by Chief Horn. The Michigan State Police has also been active in the investigation, even bringing additional troopers to the Island, and the hours they have logged are “well into the thousands,” Mr. Horn said.

In total, only a few reports were made to the police department, Mr. Horn told the Town Crier after the council meeting.

The department works with the Dianne Peppler Resource Center of Sault Ste. Marie and, as part of the requirements of the Resource Center’s Stop grant program, the department is required to report the number of sexual assaults reported here. In 2017, there was one instance of criminal sexual conduct reported, in 2016 there were two cases reported, none were reported in 2015, and in 2014 four cases were reported.

The police department and state police are also continuing to provide education and training to businesses and employers on the Island.

Other Business

The city council also decided to circulate copies of the draft Master Plan, which has been under review for the last several months. Now that the revision committee has made its changes, the draft is being distributed to the city council, nearby communities, and made available to the public. A public hearing on the document will be held later this summer.

The draft Master Plan and its appendices can be viewed on the Town Crier Web site, mackinacislandnews.com, under the General Documents tab.

The council also discussed the large boulders on the end of Truscott Street near Victorian Condos, after council member Steve Moskwa raised concerns that the boulders are in the city’s right of way. The area is narrow, Mr. Moskwa said, and he worried the rocks are obstructing the street. City street administrator Dennis

Dombroski said the boulders are in the right of way and should be moved back. He was directed to inform the condominium owners to move the boulders.

The Great Lakes Islands Summit committee will convene soon to discuss which representatives plan to attend this year’s conference. The summit will be held October 1 and 2 at Madeline Island, Wisconsin. The inaugural Great Lakes Islands Summit was held last year on Beaver Island, with Councilman Dennis Bradley, City Treasurer Rick Linn, Department of Public Works Director Mike Olson, and Mayor Margaret Doud attending.

Mr. Bradley and Mr. Olson have been involved in the conference calls planning the event. The momentum of the group is continuing, Mr. Bradley said, and the group may expand to include mainland communities.

Following this year’s event on Madeline Island, Mackinac Island may host the summit in 2019, Mayor Doud said.

The city is also still trying to purchase the Coal Dock, Mayor Doud said. A mediation for the case is planned for Thursday, July 12, in St. Ignace.

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