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Posted on Wed, Dec 19, 2012 : 9 p.m.

Charity holiday dinner in Ypsilanti continues after organizer's guilty pleas

By John Counts

The 2012 Downtown Ypsilanti Christmas Dinner forged ahead Wednesday, the day after the organizer of the event for the past 11 years pleaded guilty to two sexual assault charges.

The event was held at Korey's Krispy Krunchy Chicken, just like it was last year when it was pulled together by Leonardo Christian, the 53-year-old Ypsilanti man who faces 3-15 years for not informing a sexual partner that he was HIV-positive, as well as second-degree criminal sexual conduct. The four victims in the three cases were teenage boys.

The first victim, a 14-year-old boy, met Christian at a past holiday dinner.

But none of that was on the minds of the needy who received a free meal at this year's event. As of 3 p.m. Wednesday, Corey Barden said about 175 people had come through his chicken restaurant and gotten a meal. No one mentioned Christian, he said.

"We haven't heard anything about the situation. Nobody's asked about it," Barden said. "That's what we want, the community to receive a free meal. It was nice Leonardo did it for those years, but it's something (we) still wanted to do."

Barden said that by the end of the day, between 300 and 400 people would have received a free, hot meal.

"It's pretty nice," said Ypsilanti resident David Horn, who was enjoying his food Wednesday afternoon.

"I was hungry," said Bruce Henry of Ypsilanti Township. "It's very gracious. They're very nice people. The food is very good. I'm thinking of asking for seconds."

Much of the food was donated by local Ypsilanti restaurants, but the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office also contributed. Every year, they donate the leftover food from their large office holiday luncheon.

"We always bring whatever is left over here for the holiday dinner," said Kathy Wyatt, Sheriff Jerry Clayton's executive assistant. "It is truly a community dinner."

What's happened to Christian wasn't a concern, she added.

"This dinner was always about the people," Wyatt said. "It never was about who did it. It really was about everyone in our community having a holiday dinner. That shouldn't stop because of what one person did."

In years past, many of the volunteers were friends or associates of Christian, said Ypsilanti City Council member Ricky Jefferson, who was on hand to volunteer Wednesday.

Christian founded the event 12 years ago, Jefferson said, and this was the first year he has not been apart of it,

"We didn't know if it was going to pan out," Jefferson added. "It's a learning process this year."

Many of the new volunteers came from local churches. It was the first year Phyllis Roberts, a minister at Ekklesia Fellowship Ministry Church, volunteered at the Christmas dinner.

"It's part of our service," she said. "It's part of being a Christian, I'm going to serve wherever I'm needed."

Roberts brought her daughter, Alexys Card, a junior at Bowling Green State University.

"I feel like this is a great opportunity (and) experience," she said.

John Counts covers cops and courts for He can be reached at or you can follow him on Twitter.


Ypsi Eastsider

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 7:13 p.m.

Once again done in by the Grinch headline writers at who want to emphasize the bad rather than the good in the community. It would have been better if you wrote nothing.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 6:31 p.m.

third picture from the left.......the correct spelling is "assemble", not "assmeble". you guys have spellcheck i'm guessing?


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 5:42 p.m.

On the caption for the second photo, can you atleast spell YPSILANTI correct?


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 2 p.m.

I would like to know how to volunteer to help next year. Perhaps you can add that information to later versions of the story?


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 11:43 a.m.

Bad things can happen to many charities, I remember the Ann Arbor chapter of the United Way getting busted for fraud not too long ago. As a resident of Ypsi, I appreciate all the work the volunteers have done, and I'm sure a lot of people do.


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 3:38 a.m.

The last count I heard was between 500 & 600 people served. This was the best Holiday dinner to date in Downtown Ypsi. Many thanks to all involved, especially the Korey's Krispy Krunchy Chicken people who did an amazing job, but also to all of those who volunteered money, time or food. A great community event and THIS is the story!


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 2:37 a.m.

Thanks to those men and women who volunteered to serve this Christmas dinner, and the restaurants who donated the food. It sounds like 300 - 400 people were shown the true spirit and meaning of the season. As for, shame on you for spoiling an otherwise wonderful event of giving and sharing by bringing Mr. Christian's news into THIS story. You already covered that. Terrible headline, Mr. Counts!


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 2:13 a.m.

Way to turn a good deed into tabloid fodder. The story about Leonardo Christian has been covered. We get it. Now can we focus on the good deeds of others without the tabloid hype?

Jonathan Blutarsky

Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 2:09 a.m.

Shame on you Ann Arbor Dot Com! You cannot help but put a bad tarnish on anything good that happens in Ypsilanti. You're nothing but a tabloid of the lowest demeanor. Ypsilanti businesses should boycott you. YOU STINK!


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 6:06 p.m.

Jonathan.......Are you just figuring that out now ?


Thu, Dec 20, 2012 : 3:40 a.m.

That's the press for you.