Sparta village councilman accused of accosting child

Kent County

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — A Sparta village council member has been arrested and charged with accosting a child for immoral purposes.

Ryan James Hayes, 34, was arrested last Tuesday in an FBI sting operation, Kent County Undersheriff Michelle LaJoye-Young said.

Jail records show Hayes was arrested by the Kent County Sheriff’s Department, but LaJoye-Young said her office only acted in assisting the FBI.

Hayes was charged with accosting children for immoral purposes, and using a computer to commit a crime. The accosting charge is a felony that carries a maximum penalty of four years in prison.

Hayes was new to the Sparta village council — appointed in February to fill a vacant seat. He was sworn in on March 12, according to the village’s Facebook page.

Sparta Village President Kristi Dougan said the Kent County Sheriff’s Department alerted her of the arrest.

“At this point, we have to allow the criminal justice system to work,” Dougan told 24 Hour News 8. “It’s unfortunate.”

Dougan said at this point, Hayes maintains his position on the council and she said the board doesn’t have a mechanism to remove him based on the charges alone.

“He hasn’t made any indication that he’ll make any changes,” Dougan said, adding that she hasn’t spoken with Hayes since his arrest.

Dougan said she isn’t sure if Hayes will be at the next scheduled council meeting on Monday.

Hayes’ arrest won’t impact the board’s ability to manage the village, Dougan said.

“We are going to conduct village business,” she said.

Hayes is on the November ballot. He is running unopposed for one of three open seats on the Sparta Village council.

An FBI spokesperson was not immediately available to provide details surrounding the arrest late Friday afternoon. Attempts by 24 Hour News 8 to reach Hayes by phone were unsuccessful Friday.

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