Fmr. county commissioner sentenced in sex abuse case

Gary Rolls looks on during sentencing proceedings. (June 19, 2014)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – A former Kent County commissioner was sentenced Thursday after accepting a plea deal in a sexual abuse case.

Gary Rolls Jr. was sentenced in Kent County Circuit Court to one year in jail and five years of probation after pleading guilty in May to using a computer to commit a crime, tampering with evidence and fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. One year of Rolls’ probation can be served while he’s in jail.

Rolls was originally charged with six felonies and one amended charge, including four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. By accepting the plea deal, prosecutors dismissed the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges.

Ionia County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Lori Kirkhoff, who prosecuted the case due to a conflict of interest, set the stage at the sentencing. She asked Judge Dennis Leiber for the maximum sentence for Rolls, who stood silent and expressionless in court.

“What is important is that the defendant has had a hard time accepting responsibility for his actions,” Kirkhoff said.

Rolls could have received a steeper sentence if he had not accepted the plea deal. His attorney managed to make a potential life sentence in prison turn into a year in jail by avoiding trial and discrediting the victim.

Rose was accused of having a long-time sexual relationship with a family friend. The victim, now 30, said the abuse began when she was 9 years old.

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

Rolls seemed unfazed and turned down the opportunity to speak in court.

Leiber told Rolls that it was clear to him the former commissioner had two lives.

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

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