By Melinda Baird, firstname.lastname@example.org
Benjamin Bridges, 29 of Chelsea, was taken into immediate custody following his March 15 sentencing at Chelsea’s 14A3 District Court. Judge Richard Conlin sentenced Bridges to serve one year in jail and prohibited future contact with the 13-year-old girl to whom he exposed his genitals October 5, 2017 at the Chelsea District Library. Bridges pled no contest in January to one count of indecent exposure.
“My daughter’s jail sentence started 162 days ago when she lost her ability to walk into town with friends, to stay at home alone, to go with me to the grocery store without looking over her shoulder, to sleep without a light on and without nightmares, to live her life without anxiety attacks. Please give her some of her freedom back by reducing his,” mother of victim Sara Bachman Hammig said prior to sentencing.
Based on several reports of past sexual incidents involving Bridges, prosecuting attorney Yasmine Wint requested and received the maximum sentence allowed. Probation officer Jennifer Yeakey supported Wint’s recommendation, saying she knew of five to seven contacts Bridges had with law enforcement involving inappropriate sexual conduct for which criminal charges weren’t pursued.
“This was not an isolated incident, and his behavior is escalating,” Yeakey told the judge, adding Bridges hadn’t successfully completed the terms of his current probation.
Defense attorney Doug Mulkoff requested the judge hold any incarceration in abeyance so that Bridge’s psychotherapy can continue without interruption. Mulkoff said Bridges has been undergoing weekly treatment with a psychologist since December.
“The best thing for him right now is therapy, and there is no therapy in jail,” Mulkoff said.
Bridges is currently banned from the library through December 2018, Director Lori Coryell had reported prior to the March hearing. According to library policy, the process for handling violations includes a requirement the suspended patron meet with the director prior to granting future library access.
Per the Michigan Library Privacy Act, library staff are prohibited from discussing specific library records that relate to a specific patron.
“Benjamin Bridges made me see something I shouldn’t see at 13-years-old. I had never seen anything like that before that day. It’s something I hadn’t planned to see until I was married. Honestly, it’s something nobody should have to see if they don’t want to. He didn’t give me a choice,” said the 13-year-old during her victim impact statement.