Brotzke found not guilty on 10 of 11 CSC charges

REED CITY  — Leroy Brotzke was found not guilty on 10 of the 11 criminal sexual conduct charges against him, while a mistrial was declared on the remaining count.

The jury deliberated for about four hours on Thursday before notifying Osceola County’s 49th Circuit Court Judge Kimberly Booher they had reached a unanimous decision on all but one first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge against Brotzke.

The court, with agreement from Brotzke’s attorney Steven Benson and Osceola County Assistant Prosecutor Andy LePres, ruled to accept the verdict as it was.

The jury was brought into the courtroom a little after 2 p.m. and the foreman read through the counts, declaring Brotzke not guilty on each charge except for the eighth count, which the jury could not agree on. Booher then declared a mistrial in regards to that charge, and said Brotzke is free from police custody.

“We feel justice has been served,” Benson said.

Brotzke was charged with nine counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct for acts that allegedly took place in the village of LeRoy from 2002 to 2005, and also in 2013.

The three alleged victims in that case took the stand Wednesday to testify against Brotzke, each detailing instances where they claim Brotzke sexually assaulted them various times when they were young girls. Each described inappropriate touching and sometimes other sexual acts.

Another woman also alleged Brotzke abused her as a young girl beginning nearly 47 years ago in Oakland County when Brotzke was married to her older sister. Although the woman wasn’t a complainant in the case, she was allowed to testify to try to establish for the prosecution that Brotzke had a history sexual abuse.

But Benson argued the girls had significantly altered the details surrounding the alleged abuse. When it was first reported in 2005, the first victim told police Brotzke had “touched my skin,” according to a report read by former Michigan State Police Trooper Timothy Hose.

Hose, who testified on Wednesday, had interviewed the first alleged victim in this case.

“I asked her if any of Grandpa Lee’s hands or fingers had went in her private area,” Hose testified while reading the report. “She said, ‘No, on my skin.'”

However, LePres asked Hose if the two could have been “miscommunicating” without even realizing it since it is difficult to interview children and different words mean different things to young children.

Hose said while forensic interviewing  — a technique used to interview children  — was used in that interview, he agreed it still is hard to interview children that young and it was a possibility.

On Wednesday, the jury deliberated for two hours before Booher sent them home for the evening. The jury returned in the morning, but before deliberations could begin an alternate juror had to replace an existing one, thus requiring deliberations to start completely over from the night before.

The Osceola County Prosecutor’s Office had no comment on the outcome of the case. While a defendant cannot be re-tried on the same charges in which they receive a verdict, prosecutors can re-try a defendant on a charge when a mistrial is declared. It is unclear if prosecutors will pursue recharging Brotzke on the remaining count of criminal sexual conduct.