Traverse City Record-Eagle

August 15, 2013

Medical pot driver faces sex crime charges


---- — TRAVERSE CITY — A Thompsonville man who fought Grand Traverse County authorities all the way to the state's highest court over his medical marijuana rights is in more legal hot water with the county.

The Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's Office this week authorized felony sex crime charges against Rodney Koon, 52. The charges could result in a 15-year maximum prison sentence.

Noelle Moeggenberg, chief assistant prosecuting attorney for Grand Traverse County, said the charges stem from a May 31 incident in which authorities said Koon assaulted a female acquaintance. He was arrested the same day on a drunken driving charge after he drove from the victim's Walnut Street residence to a house on nearby Webster Street.

"It was all part of that driving incident," Moeggenberg said.

Koon faces two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of assault to commit sexual penetration.

The incident came one day after county Prosecutor Bob Cooney dismissed Koon's 2010 driving under the influence charges, and after the Michigan Supreme Court struck down a "zero tolerance" approach toward marijuana patients who drive with the drug in their systems.

Koon told the Record-Eagle on May 30 that he was relieved the medical marijuana case was dropped: “I feel that for once the judicial system played out their role in a proper manner,” he said.

Court documents state Koon, a friend of the victim's husband, was "extremely intoxicated" when he approached the woman as she sat outside on a porch. He started talking about sex before Koon began to kiss her, ripped off her underwear and assaulted her with his mouth and hand, according to the court documents.

"She continued to scream 'no' and tell him that she did not want this," the document states.

Koon was arrested at a Webster Street residence and initially was charged with operating a vehicle with a high blood-alcohol content above 0.17 percent — a preliminary breath test measured 0.28 percent.

Traverse City attorney David Becker is representing Koon in the drunken driving case. He declined to comment.

Moeggenberg handles most sex crime cases for the Grand Traverse County Prosecutor's Office. She said the office took longer on Koon's criminal sexual conduct charges than the drunken driving charge because it wanted to get its "ducks in a row" through additional interviews and investigation. She dismissed any suggestion Koon's victory in the medical marijuana case had any affect on the prosecutor's office approach toward the sex crime allegations.

"Honestly, I had nothing to do with the marijuana case," she said. "I'm handling the (criminal sexual conduct) so it's completely separate."