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Former Kent County commissioner to serve a year in jail for sex crimes against minor

File photo
Kent County Sheriff

A former Kent County commissioner will spend a year in jail after pleading guilty to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Gary Rolls resigned his county commission seat earlier this year. He was accused of beginning a sexual relationship with a girl when she was nine. She's now in her late 20s.

Rolls said nothing before he was sentenced Thursday afternoon.  

In a statement, the victim told the judge Rolls used his position in power to threaten her.

“I saw him with police officers and important people in the news and I believed him,” she said.

She said it stopped her from going to the police for many years.

The victim told the judge she suffered migraines, high blood pressure, anxiety, nightmares and a lack of sleep because of the abuse.

“He made me do things that made me physically sick and he didn’t care. If I cried, he told me to stop because I was weak. If I said no, he told me I wasn’t allowed to tell him no because he was the adult and I was the child,” she said.

“There are no words to truly reflect the pain, the fears, and the lifelong scars that I have endured because of him.”

Kent County Circuit Court Judge Dennis Leiber said it was clear Rolls led two very different lives.

“I’m not sentencing the devoted husband, father, brother and friend or the elected, respected Kent County commissioner. I’m sentencing a sexual predator who stopped at nothing to destroy evidence during the investigation of your possible involvement in major crimes,” Leiber said.

As part of a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped four counts of much more serious criminal sexual charges against Rolls. He also pleaded guilty to charges of illegally using a computer and tampering with evidence.

Lindsey Smith is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently leading the station's Amplify Team. She previously served as Michigan Public's Morning News Editor, Investigative Reporter and West Michigan Reporter.
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