Ian Elliott sentencing to take place Friday, Aug. 2
Two Central Michigan University alumnae will see their fight for justice come to an end this Friday in Isabella County Trial Court.
Rachel Wilson and Landrea Blackmore sought charges against former Student Government Association President Ian Elliott in separate sexual assault cases. During Elliott's sentencing, they will address him, and the Isabella County Prosecuting Attorney's office, and finally have their voices heard as they face the man they say assaulted them.
According to a plea agreement, Elliott will plead no contest to one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct before Isabella County Trial Judge Eric Janes at 1:15 p.m. Aug. 2 at the courthouse. In Michigan, a no contest plea is not an admission of guilt. A plea of no contest means the defendant does not wish to to contest the state's case and agrees to the imposition of a sentence.
As part of the agreement, Elliott will agree to serve a minimum of one year and one day in state prison and register as a sex offender in the state of Michigan for the rest of his life. The court will dismiss two other counts in Wilson's case and the charge in Blackmore's case. Blackmore's case will be dropped, but as part of the agreement, she will read a victim impact statement with Wilson during the sentencing hearing.
According to the Michigan Attorney General's office, defendants in Michigan are legally required to listen to their victims' impact statements.
"These statements provide an opportunity for survivors to address the defendant and share how their victimization has impacted their life," a press release stated. "(This) often helps survivors in the healing process."
Wilson was ready to go to trial in July 2019, but on June 24, two weeks before the trial was scheduled to begin, she received an unexpected phone call. The prosecutor called her and Blackmore to discuss a plea agreement.
In Wilson's case, Elliott was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of assault with intent to commit penetration by the Michigan Attorney General's office Dec. 20, 2018. He was accused of sexually assaulting Wilson on Aug. 31, 2016 after meeting her at The Cabin.
In October 2018, Wilson told her story to Central Michigan Life. She thinks she was drugged the night of her assault. After having two beers, she became much more energetic and chatty than usual. When she got in a taxi with Elliott, she said her legs felt like wet noodles. She began vomiting when they got to his house and later passed out. She said Elliott sexually assaulted her after she regained consciousness.
Wilson decided to pursue charges against Elliott that fall. In January 2017, Elliott was arrested and arraigned, and a preliminary hearing took place in February 2018. After the preliminary hearing, the case was set to go to trial in May. One month before the trial, Interim Prosecutor Robert Holmes dismissed the case due to what he called insufficient evidence.
Wilson's story was published after the statute of limitations expired for a civil case. Thinking her opportunity for justice was gone, Wilson turned her attention to advocating for sexual assault survivors.
On Oct. 31, 2018, then-Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a motion to reinstate the charges. However, on Dec. 18, a visiting judge denied the request; the only way charges could be reinstated was if there was a clinical error, fraud or a mistake in the original case.
Two days later, the Attorney General's office filed new charges against Elliott. Wilson, Blackmore and two other women served as witnesses at a preliminary hearing on Feb. 12, 2019.
Blackmore filed her own charges against Elliott in March 2018. Elliott was charged with one count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct after the Attorney General's office found "sufficient evidence."
Blackmore said Elliott sexually assaulted her at a party on Nov. 15, 2014. She and Elliott met at a leadership camp in high school and hung out frequently when they both enrolled at CMU. The night she said she was assaulted, she attended a "black light party" at the Phi Kappa Tau house, a fraternity Elliott was a part of. They went upstairs to talk during the party, which is when she said Elliott forced her to perform oral sex.
In June, Wilson told Central Michigan Life she is relieved that Elliott's defense reached an agreement. Although she was ready for trial, she knew it would have been extremely stressful.
With this plea agreement, she and Blackmore still get their day in court and the opportunity to have their voices heard. Wilson and Blackmore are asking those in attendance to wear teal to represent sexual assault awareness.
"We would really appreciate it if anyone could come and see us give these statements," Wilson told Central Michigan Life. "It would mean the world to both of us to know that we're not alone in that courtroom when we do this."