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Posted on Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5:58 a.m.

Felony sexual assault charges dropped in exchange for Detroit man's plea to misdemeanors

By Kyle Feldscher

A 19-year-old Detroit man pleaded no contest to two misdemeanor assault charges Tuesday in exchange for the prosecution dropping two sexual assault felonies related to incidents near the campus of Eastern Michigan University.


Paul Phelps

Courtesy of Ypsilanti police

Paul Phelps was originally charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct but will instead face sentencing on lesser charges. Phelps pleaded no contest to two charges of aggravated assault Tuesday in front of Washtenaw County trial Court Judge Donald Shelton.

Phelps allegedly forced himself on a 19-year-old woman and a 22-year-old woman at an off-campus party on Sept. 6 and Sept. 7. The 19-year-old woman is a student at EMU and the 22-year-old was a former student who intended on registering for classes again, according to police.

Despite the plea to lesser charges, Phelps still is facing a lengthy period behind bars.

Last week, Phelps pleaded guilty to five counts of first-degree home invasion and one count of second-degree home invasion for break-ins at six Saginaw Valley State University dorms, according to an MLive report.

First-degree home invasion carries a maximum of 15 years in prison. Phelps is scheduled to be sentenced in that case on April 29.

In the sex assault cases, police said Phelps met the 22-year-old woman a few days before a Sept. 6 party. After the party, friends dropped the woman off at her home in the 300 block of Jarvis Street and Phelps came over a short time later. He’s accused of sexually assaulting her then.

The next night, Phelps is accused of sexually assaulting the 19-year-old woman in the 900 block of Railroad Street.

Both incidents were reported in the hours after they occurred and police said the women did not know each other. Police found Phelps’ cellphone number in both of the women’s phones.

A no contest plea is not an admission of guilt, but instead shows the defendant will not fight the charges. However, it is treated as a conviction for the purposes of sentencing.

Washtenaw County Assistant Public Defender Gina Noveskey asked Shelton to accept the plea.

“Mr. Phelps would like to plead no contest based on potential civil liability,” she said.

Phelps was scheduled to go to trial at 8 a.m. April 15, court records show.

Phelps is listed in state records as an absconder from probation for a 2011 unarmed robbery in Oakland County. He was arrested in the Ypsilanti cases after being tracked down by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force in Detroit.

Shelton accepted the plea and set sentencing for 1:30 p.m. April 16. Phelps faces up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines.

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



Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 6:40 p.m.

Looking at the big picture this rapist will not have to register as a sex offender.Those charges were dropped.Seems to me the court should have charged on the rape 's.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 7:16 p.m.



Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:55 p.m.

Dropping the felony charges is like assaulting these young women all over again. I wonder how they feel about this and if they were consulted in advance. This young man has been one busy beaver. His mother must be so proud of all of his accomplishments. I have no statistics to back this up so am just pulling this (reasonable) guess out of my backside. The vast majority of crimes committed are probably the result of lousy parenting so yeah, congratulations, Mom, mission accomplished!


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:21 p.m.

Why the plea? Did the victims have a voice? Otherwise the plea should have been rejected. Absconder, robbery, 6 home invasions, 2 rapes. The prosecutor and courts should pile everything they can on this young man.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 2 p.m.

Six break-ins at Saginaw Valley and two assaults at Eastern. Does anybody else a pattern? Like preying on victims at college campuses.

Jack Gladney

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:16 p.m.

Let's see.. Six B&Es, a robbery, a couple of pled-down rape charges. And he's 19. We'll never hear from this cretin again.... For 5- 7 years. Just in time to make the Pros. Sweet.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:32 p.m.

Why let this guy off on any charge? How do you think these women feel that the charges where dropped on sexual assault? We shall see at sentencing if he draws even close to 15 yrs.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:46 p.m.

It doesn't matter why they called him. Sexual assault is still sexual assault.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:17 p.m.

Why did both girls call him?

Robert Granville

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

As a marijuana felon, this angers me. Can we get some real justice in this country please? Or maybe I'm just confused and this guy really is less of a threat than I was selling that eighth.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:39 p.m.

No are clearly responsible for the degradation of our country because you are a proponent of marijuana. Oh you villain you...


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:11 p.m.

Wow alot accomplished in 19 years.....what a waste


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:31 a.m.

That's a bad egg, right there. Worse than Veruca Salt.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:38 p.m.

Can we have a bunch of little people with rub-on tans sing him off? Oompa Loompa doopity doo I've got another puzzle for you Oompa Loompa doopity dee If you are wise you'll listen to me What do you get when you break into homes? Robbing and stealing like a criminal purloins... What did you think, stealing the kitchen sink? Doing what you do will land you in the clink...


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 11:05 a.m.

If by 'drug offenders' you mean 'users' --i.e., persons caught with small amounts of so-called recreational drugs, yes. In my opinion, distributors are another story--far too often, they turn out to be violent and generally lawless. But yes, we certainly need to ensure room in a place of confinement for people like the one in this story, who are clearly predators and who pose a genuine danger to society. What judge could possibly think that allowing him freedom would serve any good purpose? Who can really believe that he would suddenly choose to behave differently from the way he's been behaving for what appears to be a good portion of his life? Sad cases, many of these, but law-abiding and peaceable folks deserve protection from the violent and lawless. It's very dispiriting when our judicial branch puts the rights of the latter ahead of the rights of the former.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:58 p.m.

To those who (rightly) called me on a misstatement: I didn't mean to suggest that I thought the judge in this case intended to set the convicted man free--I was looking ahead to his eventual release, on the assumption that the judge will give him a light sentence. I should have been more careful in my wording. Robert Granville, I'm curious about what you were referring to when you wrote 'Lies.' Perhaps you thought I was asserting something about drug users that I didn't intend to assert? And Billy, I agree with you that there's a difference between small-time distributors (guys who sell to a small circle of friends, say) and the big-time ones, who are often connected to some very bad people. But even among the small-time dealers, things can get rough--do you remember the case about 7 or 8 years ago in which a UM engineering student went on the lam after killing a fellow with whom he'd been arguing about some small-time drug deals? It's a necessarily iffy business, inasmuch as a drug dealer can't ask the courts to step and and help if the people he makes a deal with welsh on it...How else can they enforce their contracts but by threat and intimidation, if not outright violence?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:28 p.m.

"In my opinion, distributors are another story" In my EXPERIENCE....they can and can't be. Humans are human. Some people are walking garbage....some are just weak willed....others are noble. If you're talking about the Escobar-types then I'm with you....the guys responsible for keeping the supply chain flowing. Now the guys at the end of the chain...that just bring product to customers....that position in and of itself is no more "villainous" than that of a liquor store for instance. They provide vice to those who desire it. Also...there is no "allowing him freedom" misunderstand how a plea deal is used in this case if so... The only thing the plea deal is doing, is getting him into prison faster and saving the taxpayers a fair amount of money that would be spent on having a jury trial.

Robert Granville

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 12:31 p.m.



Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 10:52 a.m.

It is time to stop filling our prisons with drug offenders. It is time to lock up the creeps that commit real crimes.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 6:16 p.m.

completely agree with you!!!

Alan Goldsmith

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 10:13 a.m.

So this sexual predator basically gets a free pass in Washtenaw County by getting having two sexual assault felonies dropped to two misdemeanor assault charges. But don't worry: "Phelps faces up to a year in jail and $1,000 in fines." Kyle, which County Prosecuting Attorney agreed to this insulting deal? Their name is missing form this story. Why not put up a giant sign: "Rapists: Welcome To Washtenaw County"?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 5 p.m.

As opposed to an unnecessary trial for someone that not only is beyond willing to plead guilty frees the courts up for a legitimate that actually needs to happen where there is a question as to guilt. There is no question as to guilt here...and THAT is why a plea deal is far more useful in the grand scheme of things.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 4:28 p.m.

"Frees the court for legitimate trials" As opposed to what?


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:31 p.m.

Then they need to throw all the books at him.


Wed, Mar 27, 2013 : 1:22 p.m.

I think they let him plea that case down because he's going to get the book thrown at him in the B&E case. This is practical and I'm ok with it. Normally I HATE that they constantly let criminals plea down to much lesser charges...but in this case he's STILL going to be in jail, kept away from the rest of us, for 5-10 years minimum. He's also a probation he's now in the system permanently. By letting him plea that case down it frees the court up for legitimate trials.