Evart man: 'I think this mistake really ruined me'

Sex offender nets 18-month prison sentence

REED CITY — An Evart man was sentenced to prison for sexually taking advantage of a child on a regular basis and faces similar charges in Mecosta County.

Scott Eric Kerns Jr., 39, told the judge he felt he’s proven “over and over again” that he could be a productive member of society while on probation, if allowed, moments before receiving a prison sentence.

“I think this mistake really ruined me,” Kerns told Osceola County Circuit Judge Scott Hill-Kennedy at sentencing on Friday, June 4.

In connection to his arrest, Kerns, 39, was initially charged with five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. He later pleaded no contest to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and the remaining charges were dismissed.

The charges stem from incidents dating back to July 14, 2020, according to court records. Kerns was regularly taking advantage of a child he knew through a woman he was dating, Osceola County Prosecutor Anthony Badovinac said at sentencing.

“I’d remind you, judge, that this individual was convicted of the identical behavior in 2004,” Badovinac said.

Kerns was convicted of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in August 2004, according to the state’s Sex Offender Registry.

“He received four months and 15 days (of incarceration in that case). Apparently he didn’t learn from that,” Badovinac said. “ ... This is reprehensible to say the least and I am afraid he’s a danger to society.”

Defense attorney Dennis DuVall argued a probation period — versus prison time — would better allow Kerns to seek counseling and other programs needed to become successful.

Kerns was sentenced to a minimum 18 months — maximum five years — in the state’s prison system for his lone charge.

Court records show Kerns faces two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Mecosta County Circuit Court. The charges in that case, according to court records, stem from incidents dating back to May 1, 2018.

The victim in that case, according to Badovinac, is the same victim in the Osceola County court case.