For Immediate Release:
October 7, 2013 Michigan Court of Appeals Affirms Macomb County Prosecutor Eric J. Smith’s Fight to Prevent Parole of Sex Offender Craig Cehaich
October 7, 2013
Mt. Clemens, Michigan
Macomb County Prosecutor Eric J. Smith’s Parole Appeals Unit successfully fought the parole release of sex offender Craig Cehaich. On October 3, 2013, the Michigan Court of Appeals issued an opinion finding that the Michigan Parole Board abused its discretion in paroling Cehaich without first requiring him to complete sex offender therapy in prison.
The Court of Appeals decision affirmed Macomb County Circuit Court Judge Edward Servitto’s ruling on April 12, 2012 which reversed the Parole Board’s decision to release Cehaich on parole.
Cehaich, now 47, pled guilty to five counts of criminal sexual conduct first degree after having sexually assaulted a female relative from ages 6 to 8 in the mid-1990’s. He was sentenced in March 2000 to 12 to 30 years by Macomb County Circuit Judge Michael Schwartz. Cehaich, who claimed he was under the influence of alcohol when he committed the crimes, has a 27 year history of substance abuse.
Prosecutor Smith filed an appeal in Macomb County Circuit Court opposing Cehaich’s release. The Parole Board is required by statute to have “reasonable assurance” before paroling a prisoner that the prisoner will not become a menace to society or the community. However, Michigan Department of Corrections records revealed that Cehaich was being paroled even though he had not completed recommended sex offender therapy in prison. The Parole Board had previously denied parole to Cehaich four times for reasons which included failure to complete sex offender therapy.
After Judge Servitto reversed the Parole Board’s decision, the Parole Board filed an appeal to the Court of Appeals. The Parole Board relied upon a new policy issued in December 2012 that only required Cehaich to attend sex offender programming in the community while on parole. However, the Court of Appeals agreed with Prosecutor Smith’s argument that the MDOC’s policy violated their duty to have “reasonable assurance”. The Court of Appeals criticized the Parole Board for relying upon results of experimental tests which measured Cehaich’s risk for reoffending as “low”, concluding that the results were not valid where the Parole Board did not first provide Cehaich with specialized sex offender treatment in prison.
Prosecutor Smith applauded the Court of Appeals’ decision, stating: “Untreated sex offenders such as Cehaich should not be released into our community. This prisoner presents a clear danger to our citizenry and should remain in prison.”