Hackel found guilty of rape
Macomb County Sheriff William Hackel faces up to 15 years in prison after a six-man, six-woman jury found him guilty of rape Thursday in Isabella County Circuit Court.
After deliberating for almost 10 hours beginning Wednesday, the jury announced its verdict Thursday morning. Hackel was convicted of two counts of third-degree criminal-sexual conduct, involving oral penetration and forced sexual intercourse.
“Oh my God, my God,” Hackel’s son, Mark Hackel, said after Chief Judge Paul Chamberlain denied continuing the sheriff’s bond. Hackel’s wife, Ada, bent over in her seat and sobbed as the bailiff led him to the Isabella County Jail.
Hackel, 58, is guilty of raping a 26-year-old woman Oct. 11 in her hotel room at the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort, 6800 Soaring Eagle Blvd., during a Michigan Sheriff’s Association fall conference.
The trial began April 17, and closing statements were given Wednesday. Hackel had admitted he and the woman had sex, but testified that it was consensual.
The victim, an MSA staff member, said she was “shocked” and “happy” about the jury’s ruling.
Third-degree criminal-sexual conduct requires a mandatory jail sentence, but Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick said he doesn’t know yet what he’ll recommend. The maximum prison sentence is 15 years.
Hackel will remain jailed until his sentencing, which should take place within four to five weeks, Burdick said. Hackel had been free on a $10,000 surety, or 10-percent bond.
Hackel’s sister, Linda Ahern, attended the trial and said Ada Hackel is devastated by the jury’s decision and the judge’s bond rejection.
“The man isn’t going anywhere. They could have let him go home,” Ahern said. “This goes beyond belief. It was something that never should have happened.
“We’ll just have to live with the decision. Anger or crying won’t change the decision.”
Defense Attorney Jim Howarth said the verdict will definitely be appealed. Hackel, who has been Macomb County’s sheriff for 24 years, had planned to run for a seventh four-year term this fall, but resigned following his conviction.
Howarth said he was stunned by the jury’s decision.
“I don’t understand it, I’m in shock,” he said. “The judge can order a new trial because no rational juror could come up with this verdict.”
Upon hearing the decision, Hackel “reacted with the same dignity he has shown throughout this trial,” Howarth said.
He said the jury held Hackel to an unfair standard because of his job position, saying “if William Hackel was a custodian in a hotel, he would have been acquitted.”
The prosecution won the case because the victim had the courage “to run the gauntlet” and that she “handled the media attention and the court hearings with great courage,” Burdick said.
“This case also stands for women who suffer these kinds of assaults, so they can see that the system can work for them.”
Women who suffer a sexual-assault incident can come forward and will be treated with respect, Burdick said.
Prosecuting the case of a sheriff accused of rape was difficult, but “no one person is above the law,” he said.
After sentencing, Hackel will be transported to the Jackson State Prison’s processing center, where his place of incarceration will be determined.
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