Ex-Sparta councilman sentenced in child sex crime

Kent County
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SPARTA, Mich. (WOOD) — A former Sparta councilman was sentenced Thursday to more than 15 years in prison for sexual exploitation of a minor.

After Ryan James Hayes serves his 188-month prison sentence, he will be on supervised release for five years.

Hayes, 35, pleaded guilty to the charge in April. As part of a plea agreement, the judge dismissed the remaining count of attempted coercion and enticement.

The federal indictment accuses Hayes of using a 16-year-old girl for sexually explicit conduct, which he recorded on his cellphone around April 11, 2018.

Five months later, Kent County detectives say Hayes started texting with a person he believed to be a 14-year-old girl. However, that person turned out to be an employee of the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, the police affidavit stated.

Detectives say Hayes confessed to texting “Liv,” discussing sexual topics and planning to meet her at Grand Rapids’ Huff Park.

Detectives say the conversation continued for two weeks until Hayes planned to meet her at the park for sex. He was arrested by authorities when he arrived.

Hayes was previously charged in Kent County with accosting children for immoral purposes and using a computer to commit a crime. However, it appears those counts were set aside in light of the federal charges.

After his arrest, Hayes stopped showing up to council meetings and eventually resigned on Oct. 31. However, his resignation came only six days before an election, which Hayes won.

Sparta Village President Kristi Dougan previously said Hayes never showed up to take the oath within the 30-day window the village allows. The council appointed someone to fill his seat on March 4, according to Dougan.

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