By Trace Christenson
After a week’s delay, a former Calhoun County Corrections officer was sentenced to spend at least two years in prison.
Circuit Court Judge James Kingsley on Friday sentenced Troy Pope, 26, of Battle Creek, to a prison term of two to 15 years.
Last week the judge said he would not agree to a sentence agreement of a minimum of 15 months. Pope and his attorney, J. Thomas Schaeffer agreed to that during negotiations with prosecutors on a plea in a criminal sexual conduct case.
In August, Pope pleaded no contest to criminal sexual conduct in the third degree after investigators said he paid for sex with a 15-year-old boy on May 11, 2012.
As part of the agreement other charges in that case and sexual assault charges involving another man and a woman were dismissed.
But last week Kingsley told Pope he would not agree to the 15 month sentence and allowed him a week to consider withdrawing his plea and going to trial.
In court Friday, Schaeffer told the judge the original sentence agreement should stand after noting that Kingsley was aware of terms of the plea agreement.
“It makes eminent sense that the agreement that all parties were aware of be followed,” Schaeffer said.
But Kingsley said before reading a pre-sentence report a week ago, he was not aware of details of the cases, including statements from the other alleged victims, and decided two years was the proper minimum sentence.
Schaeffer argued that while other charges were filed against Pope, his client admitted to one crime with the boy and it was two days before the young man’s 16th birthday.
“This is my client’s first offense,” Schaeffer said. “He is engaging in a legal but not accepted form of activity. The difficulty was in this case it was for the person two days before the age of consent and he represented he was of age and no indication otherwise and as a result, technically that is why we entered the plea. The other allegations we didn’t agree happened.”
Schaeffer told the judge that after conferring with his client, they were accepting the change in sentence.
Pope told the judge he didn’t have anything to say.
Prosecutor David Gilbert told the judge Pope was charged in a similar case in 2001 and that Pope had been cavalier about the present cases.
“Everything I have seen him he has been smiling or laughing about something in this case,” Glbert said.
And early in the hearing, when Kingsley referred to the other two victims, Pope seemed to laugh.
“Its not funny Mr. Pope,” Kingsley said, “from what I have read.”
Pope was working as a corrections officer when the allegations first surfaced in January. He was placed on leave and a few days later resigned.
Officials said safety precautions will be made during his prison term because he might be targeted by other inmates.
Pope also must register on Michigan’s sex offender registry.