(File photo) Former Vassar High School student Quintin Smith (right) dribbles against a Bad Axe defender on Jan. 6, 2017. Smith played junior varsity basketball during the 2016-17 winter sports season after being accused of committing multiple sex crimes. Smith was sentenced Monday following conviction of four felony counts and one high-court misdemeanor.

Vassar teen sentenced to juvenile detention, probation for sex crimes

(File photo)
Former Vassar High School student Quintin Smith (right) dribbles against a Bad Axe defender on Jan. 6, 2017. Smith played junior varsity basketball during the 2016-17 winter sports season after being accused of committing multiple sex crimes. Smith was sentenced Monday following conviction of four felony counts and one high-court misdemeanor.

A Vassar teen convicted of multiple sex crimes, two of which were committed inside Vassar’s high school/middle school complex, was sentenced Monday.

Quintin Smith, who turned 16 on Wednesday, was ordered by Tuscola County Circuit Judge Amy Grace Gierhart to remain in juvenile detention until further notice. Smith is to be placed on five years of probation, was ordered to pay $2,972 in costs and assessments and will have to register as a sex offender for the next 25 years.

The Tuscola County Prosecutor’s Office had charged Smith in five separate case files. Smith was charged as an adult in three of the cases, as a juvenile in one, and as both a juvenile and adult in another. On Feb. 22, Smith pleaded no contest to one count in each case file. Before the plea, Smith was scheduled to go on trial on the possible life offense count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (in connection with one of the five cases) on Feb. 27.

The five years of probation and requirement to register as a sex offender were punishments handed down in connection with the three adult files. Smith will remain detained in a juvenile facility for an undisclosed amount of time in connection with the juvenile file. He will have periodic reviews in court to update the judge on his rehabilitation progress, which typically occur every six months.

Smith’s probationary period will begin immediately, not once he is released from juvenile detention. Youths can be detained in a juvenile facility until they are 21 years old. Overall, Smith was convicted of four felony offenses (three second-degree CSC counts and accosting a child for immoral purposes) and one high-court misdemeanor (fourth-degree CSC).

Smith’s pattern of sexually deviant behavior, according to police reports, began March 10, 2016, lasted until mid-March 2017 and involved six different underage girls. Here are the original charges leveled against Smith in the five case files, along with his Feb. 22 plea in each case:

  • Smith faced two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct against two different girls for actions that occurred in March and April of 2016. One of the incidents involved the fondling of a female student inside Vassar High School, which Smith later confessed to. He pleaded no contest to one juvenile count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.
  • Following an incident that occurred in June of 2016, Smith was charged with one count each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and accosting a child for immoral purposes. He pleaded no contest to one adult count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct.
  • Smith was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct after an incident that occurred off Vassar schools ground in September 2016. He pleaded no contest as both an adult and juvenile to one count of second-degree CSC.
  • Smith faced 12 charges – four counts of third-degree CSC, six counts of fourth-degree CSC and two counts of accosting a child for immoral purposes – following an incident that happened inside the Vassar high school/middle school complex in February 2017. He pleaded no contest to one adult count of second-degree CSC.
  • Smith pleaded no contest as an adult to one count of accosting a child for immoral purposes in connection with an incident that happened in March 2017. He was originally charged with two accosting charges and one count of stalking.

It is The Advertiser’s policy to not name youths charged with a crime, unless they are tried as an adult. The Advertiser does not name victims of sexual assault.

A plea of no contest is not an admission of guilt, but is treated as such for sentencing purposes. By definition, first- and third-degree CSC involve intercourse while second- and fourth-degree CSC is limited to touching.

Tuscola County Assistant Prosecutor Eric Hinojosa tried the case for the prosecution. Smith was defended by Traverse City attorney Jeffrey Slocombe.

“This isn’t a case of teenage hormones run amuck, this is predatory behavior,” Hinojosa said at Monday’s sentencing. “He badgered, he overpowered, and he coerced his victims so that he could violate them. And that had a very detrimental effect on them.

“It’s my understanding that all but one of Quintin’s known victims have had counseling.”

Slocombe argued that Smith is a good kid with a strong support system.

“You can see the letters of support that he received, a lot of people, a lot of people,” he said. “I would point out the court is virtually filled with supporters of Mr. Smith (that) know that he is a good young man and has a bright future ahead of him.”

Gierhart touched on the fact that there was a disconnect between Smith and his supporters, and the victims.

“There appears to be a community rift,” Gierhart said. “That is, there are two camps – there is the Quintin Smith camp, and there is the victim camp. No good will come from perpetuating this rift or anger. Each camp is suffering and will suffer consequences into the future.”

Hinojosa downplayed letters from Smith’s supporters.

“This court isn’t here today to sentence Quintin based on his alleged charisma, his good behavior in church, his athletic performance and his positive interactions with his family,” Hinojosa said. “The people who wrote the letters of support for Quintin weren’t watching when he sexually assaulted his victims. He did those things because he didn’t think anyone was watching. He did those things because he thought he was entitled to do them whether the victims wanted to or not. He did those things because he thought he wouldn’t be held accountable.

“That speaks volumes about his character.”

Hinojosa also praised the victims and made reference to the recent “Me Too” movement.

“The victims in this matter should be commended,” Hinojosa told the court. “They showed tremendous strength in the face of dealing with not just the normal pressures of being a teen, but having to deal with ill-informed individuals denigrating them and minimizing their experience. They’ve had to deal with others at school spreading lies and rumors. They’ve had to deal with adults who should have known better making hurtful comments online.”

Before imposing a sentence on the three adult charges, Gierhart suggested that Smith, and his supporters, take responsibility for what transpired.

“It would be best for you, and everyone that has an influence on you, to step up to the plate and accept some responsibility for your actions here as continuous denial of events that are true will not allow you to lead a normal, productive life,” Gierhart said. “It will only lead to you continuously incarcerated as a juvenile and then as an adult.”

Smith did not address the court during his sentencing.

Smith was an athlete at Vassar High School prior to the February 2017 incident. He earned a spot on the varsity football team in fall 2016 as a freshman. He was allowed to participate despite multiple sexual assault complaints lodged with the Vassar Police Department. According to a Vassar police report, on Sept. 30, 2016, Vassar principal and varsity football coach Jason Kiss contacted Vassar police about an assault that occurred days earlier, which was the third time police had been contacted about Smith’s sexual misconduct. Smith played in a football game that night and remained on the team the rest of the football season.

He then, despite the multiple complaints to police, including the March 2016 fondling on school grounds incident that he admitted to, played junior varsity basketball for Vassar during the 2016-17 season until being expelled from school following the February 2017 assault.

Previously, Kiss didn’t respond to numerous calls from The Advertiser requesting a response on why Smith was allowed to continue playing sports at Vassar.

Vassar Superintendent Dorothy Blackwell, who was hired in July 2016, told The Advertiser in February that student records are not public. Due to the policy, it is not known whether Smith served a school suspension after being accused of any of the 2016 incidents.

“With student records and student information, we’re not allowed to share student information with anybody for anything,” she said.

Following a Feb. 3 story in The Advertiser, which focused on the fact that Smith continued to play sports after multiple sex-crime allegations, Vassar Public Schools released a statement that alleged the story was “erroneous and the timeline of events is inaccurate.” School officials, however, did not specify what was erroneous or inaccurate about the story.

Calls to Blackwell for comment about what was meant by the allegations were not returned.

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