MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) - Re-elected by a nearly 2-1 margin Tuesday , Kent County Commissioner Gary Rolls appeared in a Muskegon County courtroom Thursday in connection with accusations he sexually assaulted a woman over several years.
The hearing in Muskegon County Circuit Court was supposed to determine whether a Personal Protection Order taken out by the alleged victim in September should remain in place. The PPO was filed in Muskegon County because that's where the alleged victim lives.
In court documents filed in October, Rolls' lawyer John Kerala claims the accusation are untrue and the PPO should be dropped.
But the hearing also revealed new details about the criminal investigation into accusations Rolls sexually assaulted the alleged victim, now 28, since she was 12 years old.
A state police sergeant assigned to the case said forensic evidence, including computers and cameras taken from Rolls home and business, are still being examined.
While the final decision is up to the prosecutor, MSP Detective Sgt. Denise Bentley said she believes there's enough evidence to charge Rolls with 1st-degree Criminal Sexual Conduct.
Third-degree CSC was also an option, but many of the victim's claims against Rolls are more than a decade old. Third-degree CSC carries a 10-year statute of limitations, while 1st-degree CSC has no statute of limitation.
Most of the alleged CSCs happened in Kent County. Because Rolls is a Kent County Commissioner, the Ionia County Prosecutor will handle the case.
The alleged victim, who is not being named by 24 Hour News 8, took the stand Thursday. She said she still fears for her safety after a number of encounters with Rolls.
She said the sexual assaults began when she was 12, and over the years, Rolls had control over her by threatening her safety if she told anybody about the assaults.
On the stand, she told the judge Rolls, who was first elected to the Kent County Commission in 2002, reminded her of the people he knew, including many in law enforcement, and the fact that he held a concealed-carry gun permit.
"He could get rid of me and no one would know what happened to me," she told the judge.
As 24 Hour News 8 reported when the story first broke , there is no indication the alleged victim ever went to law enforcement about the case.
She testified the latest incident of intimidation happened back in September, when she saw Rolls in a car near her place of employment on Grand Rapids' northwest side. She said Rolls pointed his finger at her as they approached the same intersection.
Attorney Kerala noted Rolls' business is in that same area.
Rolls and his attorney declined to comment when they left the courtroom.
The hearing will continue Friday.
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