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State police investigating prosecutor for inappropriate relationship with victim

Macomb County Prosecutor

Updated September 10, 6:45 p.m.: A state sex crimes prosecutor is now the one under criminal investigation.

On Thursday, the Michigan State Police notified the state Attorney General that Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej “had allegedly engaged in an intimate relationship with one of the victims” in a high-profile sexual assault case involving Central Michigan University students.

Kolodziej resigned on Friday after admitting to the relationship, which he says began in April of 2019 and continued through August.  

Asked if the relationship was consensual, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said she couldn’t comment because of the ongoing investigation.

“I have never before even heard of a situation like this,” Nessel said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I've never heard of a prosecutor involved in this kind of relationship with a victim in a case, much less on a sexual assault case. So this was incredibly disturbing.”

Nessel says her office is now reviewing all of Kolodziej’s cases, and has notified the defense attorneys and the judge who presided over the Central Michigan University case.

While the victim he admitted to being involved with isn’t being named, the case centered on former CMU student Rachael Wilson’s accusations of sexual assault against Ian Elliott, a former student body president.

The former county prosecutor initially dropped the case against Elliott. But the Michigan Attorney General's office decided to refile charges after Wilson said she'd been denied her day in court in a powerful piece for the student newspaper, Central Michigan Life

What followed were days of emotional testimony in court by both Wilson and another accuser of Elliott’s, Landy Blackmore. Elliott eventually took a plea deal in August, pleading no contest to third degree criminal sexual conduct, and is currently serving a one-year sentence.

It’s not clear whether Kolodziej’s misconduct will put that outcome at risk, Nessel says.

“I’ve already indicated that I’m more than happy to sit down with Mr. Elliott’s defense council and to discuss the matter with him. And obviously it will be up to his council to decide what, if any, motions he decides to make,” says Nessel.

Elliott’s attorney, Joe Barberi, said he reached his client last night to tell him about the development. “I got ahold of him for eight minutes last night [because that’s all the time he gets for a phone call in prison,] and he and his father were shocked. Everybody has been shocked by the revelations.”

But Barberi says he’s been trying to bring attention to Kolodziej’s handling of this case for months now. While Barberi says he didn’t know about the prosecutor’s relationship with the victim, Barberi previously filed a motion asking the court to sanction Kolodziej, he says, for withholding evidence that would be helpful to the defense.

Asked if he plans to file a motion to get the conviction set aside, Barberi says he’s first going to meet with Nessel.

“I’m planning to present to Dana Nessel what Brian Kolodziej did to taint and change witness testimony, such that my client could never get a fair trial. I’m hoping she’ll do the right thing, and she’ll decide what justice requires in this case. I hope she decides that steps need to be taken to eliminate his conviction,” he says.

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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