Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

Ironwood man acquitted of all charges

BESSEMER — After deliberating for roughly 4.5 hours, a jury found an Ironwood man not guilty of all charges in Gogebic County Circuit Court Friday.

Jeremy James Richards, 42, was acquitted of four counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct-personal injury and one count of assault with intent to do great bodily harm-strangulation.

Each of the criminal sexual conduct charges had carried a potential life sentence as the maximum punishment.

The charges had stemmed from an alleged incident involving a woman Richards had a casual, sexual “friends with benefits” relationship from roughly early March to the end of May, when the alleged assault occurred.

Richards had been accused of crossing the line and doing something while the two were having sex on May 27, 2019 the woman had previously said she wasn’t comfortable doing.

Prior to jury deliberations, Gogebic County Prosecutor Nick Jacobs and defense attorney Karl Numinen gave their closing statements.

During his closing, Numinen repeatedly emphasized that, given the testimony from both sides that the relationship involved “rough sex,” an accidental injury didn’t make it a crime.

“The unfortunate, accidental mistaken injury that happens does not take away the consent that was started,” he told jurors, comparing it to someone getting hurt in a combat sport.

Numinen reviewed the evidence he said showed the jury the reasonable doubt standard necessary to convict hadn’t been reached. He painted a picture of the woman as someone whose story changed several times and his client as someone who has been considered truthful, good guy who stopped earlier in the relationship when there was an issue and had no indication there was anything out of the ordinary with the final encounter until the next day when the woman texted she was in the hospital.

He also offered the jury several motives for the woman to claim the act wasn’t consensual — including embarrassment at having to go to the hospital for the internal and external lacerations she sustained.

In his closing argument, Jacobs said there was no dispute the relationship started on an even playing field and that much of the relationship involved two consenting adults “exploring and enjoying each others’ bodies” — until a boundary was crossed.

“What happens in the bedroom, stays in the bedroom; in this case, what happened in Jeremy’s living room … stayed in the living room, until the last time — at which time we believe it was criminal.”

Jacobs attributed any discrepancies in the woman’s testimony to human nature, saying that it’s natural to highlight different minor details or recollect different things each time a story is told and that the broad strokes of her story were largely consistent throughout.

He told jurors that to convict on the criminal sexual conduct charges, they needed to find three elements — that sexual penetration occurred, that the penetration caused personal injury, and that it was “through the use of force or coercion.”

After the trial, Jacobs said he appreciated the jurors’ efforts in the case and respects their decision.

“Although these are very challenging and difficult cases to prosecute, in the end, regardless of the outcome, we take pride knowing that the law enforcement community and local support groups such as DOVE utilized all available resources to present the facts to a jury and allow them to reach the ultimate decision through their verdict,” Jacobs told the Daily Globe in an email. “The satisfaction for me is to know that we tried our best on behalf of the victim and gave it our best effort.”

Editor’s Note: Daily Globe policy is to not identify potential victims in sexual assault cases.