HASTINGS, Mich. (WOOD) - A former youth home director accused of molesting four clients will get no more time with his own eight children, despite his attorney's suggestion that the alleged sex crime victims -- all troubled teens -- have reasons to make up the allegations.
Michael Terpening, 32, had asked a judge to allow him to spend time with his children at the family's home. That request was denied on Tuesday.
Now, he can see them only through the Department of Human Services.
"We have allegations from 17-, 18- or 19-year-olds who have been through the system... who have a variety of motivations for what they're testifying to," Terpening's attorney, J. Thomas Schaeffer, told the judge Tuesday.
The children's attorney, who says he's read police reports about the alleged sexual assaults, fought against more visitation time for the father.
"I resent the accusations that these individuals, just because they're convicted felons... that their word is no good," attorney James M. Kinney said. "They can be victims, too."
Terpening, who ran Earth Services and The House Next Door -- a Barry County program for troubled teens -- is charged with 11 counts of sexual assault involving four former clients, all males in their late teens.
Police say more charges might be on the way involving a fifth alleged victim.
None of the charges involve Terpening's own children.
The children's attorney said he believes Terpening has built himself up as a man who can be trusted, to make it easier to find victims.
"When I look at this what I see is a man who is grooming these children. This is a trick; this is their game. This is their way about being open and being sneaky and getting more access to your child."
About 10 supporters sat behind Terpening and his wife, Amanda, in the courtroom. They included friends, a former youth home worker and a former youth home volunteer.
The state has filed a neglect petition to terminate Michael Terpening's parental rights. The children are staying with his wife, their mother.
A DHS prosecutor and two attorneys for the children argued against Terpening's request for more time with his children.
They criticized supporters who have created an online petition and a YouTube video, showing some of the children, on the father's behalf.
"We have Mr. Terpening orchestrating a public display of alleged innocence," Kinney said. "He's exploiting his children, as is his wife, by allowing their pictures to be put on YouTube videos and broadcast to the world."
Police are investigating a report of a home invasion, but say there are inconsistencies.
A Kalamazoo County sheriff's deputy will not face criminal sexual conduct charges.
A candlelight vigil was held Wednesday night for an innocent bystander who was shot and killed in October.