You are viewing this article in the archives. For the latest breaking news and updates in Ann Arbor and the surrounding area, see
Posted on Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 6 a.m.

Prosecutors admit mistake during 2003 conviction of Matthew Freeman, court documents say

By Lee Higgins

An error by a prosecutor during a 2003 hearing appears to have contributed to the latest criminal charge against a Pittsfield Township man convicted of a sex offense, court documents say.

That's because Matthew Freeman, 23, erroneously pleaded guilty to a sex offense involving force or coercion for having sex with his underage high school girlfriend.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Matt_Freeman1.JPG

Matthew Freeman is awaiting a court ruling.

Last fall, Freeman was charged with a school safety zone residency violation that accuses him of living within 1,000 feet of Carpenter Elementary School. Investigators say it's illegal for him to live that close to a school because he was convicted of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion. With a few exceptions, sex offenders are not permitted to live near schools.

In 2003, Freeman admitted to having sex with his high school girlfriend when he was 17 and she was 15. In Michigan, the legal age of consent is 16.

Washtenaw County prosecutors and attorney David Goldstein, who is representing Freeman, agree no force or coercion was involved, recent court filings say.

Goldstein recently filed a “motion to correct the record,” which 22nd Circuit Judge Donald Shelton is scheduled to hear this afternoon.

The motion asks that the record be corrected to “accurately reflect” that Freeman pleaded guilty to the section of the fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct statute relating to "statutory criminal sexual conduct, that is - sexual relations with a female under the age of 16.”

Washtenaw County Assistant Prosecutor Mark Kneisel, who works in the office’s appellate division, filed an answer to that motion Thursday, acknowledging errors were made.

On July 29, 2003, when the prosecutor was specifying the statute to which Freeman would be pleading, she said, “the statutory citation…uhh…PACC code is 750.520E1A,” the answer says.

She mistakenly used the Michigan Prosecuting Attorneys Coordinating Council code for fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct involving force or coercion.

According to the answer, the correct PACC code would have been 750.520E1A-A, which is criminal sexual conduct fourth-degree (age of victim), the answer says.

No one corrected her mistake, including Freeman’s public defender and Judge Shelton, who presided over the hearing.

Various court documents subsequently listed Freeman’s conviction as “entailing force or coercion,” the answer says.

The mistake may not have been caught because the Michigan Compiled Laws number for criminal sexual conduct fourth-degree is 750.520e(1)(a). Prosecutors use PACC codes and MCL numbers during court proceedings.

The mistake had "consequences" for Freeman, making him subject to school safety zone residency requirements, the answer says.

Had the mistake not been made, Freeman wouldn't have been prohibited from living near a school, according to the Michigan Sex Offender Registry Web site.

According to the site, he would have been exempt because at the time of the offense, he was "17 years of age or older but less than 21 years of age" and "not more than five years older than the victim."

Shelton could rule on the motion today, take it under advisement and issue a ruling at a later time or issue a written opinion. If the judge rules in favor of the motion, the recent charge against Freeman must be dismissed.

Freeman must remain on the registry until Aug. 17, 2028.

He is scheduled to return to court on the latest charge March 12. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail.

Lee Higgins covers police and courts for He can be reached by phone at (734) 623-2527 or email at



Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 10:28 a.m.

Biggest crock of crud - This person should never have been charged with a crime in the first place. Morons!

ronn oneal

Wed, Mar 3, 2010 : 3:21 a.m.

Do Michigan really admit to making mistakes and fixin them or just the ones that have media attention. This kid and girlfriend are gettin a real bad break on this.

David Briegel

Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 8:42 p.m.

Good Grief, We have had to look at this kid's face for months now. Virtually every single one of us has know someone in these exact same circumstances. Were our friends and acquaintances criminals? I don't think any reasonable person could come to any conclusion except that this whole affair is a perfect example of the INjustice inherent in the American INjustice system. Poor people and minorities have never been given a fair shake. NEVER! This is the equivalent of a typographical error. A typo! All this hand wringing and jawboning and not one person has suggested the simple INjustice in OUR system. I did not read one single suggestion as to how we should prevent future abuses. We are as negligent as the criminals because it is OUR system of INjustice that will treat the next person in the exact same fashion as this unfortunate soul. We NEVER learn. Will we EVER?? Will the judiciary and the Bar Association do something? The prosecutor? Anything??


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 1:42 p.m.

Eye heart A2, i clearly identified it as an aside. Interestingly enough. you can still marry your cousin in about half of the states. Maryland is in the process of making it illegal right now. Marriage is all about scarifce and giving things up, this I know.


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 1:14 p.m.

That is why it is called statutory rape, it was created by statute and not part of the common law, which the colonies adopted by virtue of being an English colonies. Ed, I am pretty sure the case is out of Massachusetts, same era as the Salem witch hunts.Try e-mailing Tom Greene(sp) at the U of M if he is still there. He is a law/History prof. I was made aware of this by him in one of his history courses. You might want to try google books too, I'm pretty sure the coursepack contained a copy of a chapter of a book.

Mark Hergott

Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 1:04 p.m.

EyeHeartA2, The mother was angry. The prosecutor could have looked at the facts of the case, and said, "this is not worth the county's time or money. I will not bring this up on charges". Instead, the prosecutor knew Matthew Freeman would cut a deal, and that deal would look like a win in that prosecutor's docket. The prosecutor was hoping that public sentiment towards sex crimes would insulate any negative aspects of this poaching by the prosecutor's office. Well, the times, they are a-changin'.


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 12:51 p.m.

As an aside, statutory rape is an American phenomenon. The common law of England did not contain such an offense. Look up the story of farmer Fromby's daughters from New Engalnd, circa eighteenth century I believe, but don't qoute me on it.

Mark Hergott

Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 12:15 p.m.

He was a dumb kid. Destruction of property and stealing video games are asocial acts that he ought to have been punished for. Having sex with his girlfriend when her parents did not approve should not haunt him until the year 2028. 2028!


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 12:03 p.m.

@Mark Hergott--I do agree with what you are saying--in some cases 16 is an arbitrary number. What I am saying is that if you look at his past (2 convictions), you had better be more careful what you do moving on in life.

Mark Hergott

Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 11:55 a.m.

Stevek, that is what I am trying to point out... by any reasonable definition, Matthew Freeman did not do anything "wrong". He had consensual sex with his girlfriend. What is the difference between 15 years and 364 days and 16 years as far as cognitive development? This arbitrary and draconian sexual offense regime in this country is TAILOR MADE to poach harmless individuals engaging in benign practices for the benefit of no one but the prosecuting class. Now, Please let me explain that I believe that there is such a thing as statutory rape. However, I find the use of arbitrary age as the determining factor to be repellent. On average, a fifteen year old girl knows what sex is, and knows the dangers and benefits that such an act entails. If Matthew Freeman had had sex with a 16 year old with an I.Q. of eighty, he would not be in trouble right now. Think about that.


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 11:16 a.m.

Once again, take the race card out of this. If you stick with just the basic facts, he broke the law by doing what he did (for the third time). If you don't do anything wrong, then you don't have to worry about being prosecuted.

Mark Hergott

Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 10:40 a.m.

This certainly is not about race. It is about class. Matthew Freeman did what rich people do all the time, but lacked the resources to keep it away from the authorities. The authorities, their own special class, figured he would be an easy mark to ad to their conviction record. Then the news heard about it, and ruined it for the prosecuting elite. Maybe Matthew Freeman won't go to jail, and maybe he will. The thing we should remember is that if you are not rich, your friend, yourself, or your family can be poached by the prosecuting class for doing something that does not harm anyone else. The middle class needs to wake up and start voting as if they were in the middle class, and not in the upper class. and the lower class need to start voting as if they were poor and not as if they were rich. If that does not happen, well... More Matthew Freemans are going to happen. They just might be your name.


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 10:39 a.m.

I'm with rr911, I pray that this is corrected for this young man and he can go on with his life. To the people who comment that "this is not about race", everyone has a right to their opinion and if someone thinks it's about race, then they have a right to express it. By the way, what is your opinion on the article? Stay focused!


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 10:10 a.m.

this is not about race, so give it up with the comments about racism....I am so sick of this crap!


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 8:41 a.m.

Again, indifferent Judges, such as Judge Shelton, who have very poor outlooks on the life outcome for African Americans, especially Males, overzealous Prosecutors who want to appear tough on crime, and poor legal representation as exemplified by the Public Defender are lethal ingredients for African American seeking justice in this county. Matthew Freeman should never have been sentenced under Section 750.520E1A which involved "force or coercion." Will anyone be held accountable for this mistake? I don't think so.


Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 8:30 a.m.

Poor kid, hopes this all goes away for him soon.

Craig Lounsbury

Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 7:46 a.m.

"why wait to rule on this no-brainer motion?" I would contend because in the judicial system prosecutors and judges are more concerned with how they look and what their record is than whether they lock up the right guy for the right crime.

Basic Bob

Tue, Mar 2, 2010 : 6:17 a.m.

The wheels of justice turning... why wait to rule on this no-brainer motion? Judge Shelton should have already practiced his "my bad" for this hearing.