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July 17, 2013

No second trial for former police officer

BEULAH — A former Manistee police officer averted a second trial on sex crime accusations when he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge.

Benzie County jurors in 2012 were unable to decide whether Matthew Shane Thompson, 40, was innocent or guilty of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. A mistrial set the stage for a second trial that was scheduled to start today, but Thompson accepted a plea agreement that lowered the charge to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Prosecutor Sara Mason said the maximum sentence is two years, but it’s possible Thompson won’t serve any time.

“It’s a much better deal than we’d offer for (criminal sexual conduct), but the case is 20 years old and the case already came to trial,” she said. “We figure with this compromise we’ll at least get something.”

Thompson’s brother, Michael Thompson, was sentenced in March to a minimum of 10 years in prison on five counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Thompson was accused of sexual abuse by his step-brother and sister during the course of the investigation.

Mason said the victims testified the abuse occurred over a period of years from 1987 and were informed of the plea agreement.

“It’s very emotional,” she said.

No sentencing date has been scheduled.

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