Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Sunday

December 15, 2013

Koon to serve up to 15 years

TRAVERSE CITY — Rodney Koon once stood triumphant over Grand Traverse County in a case that changed Michigan’s medical marijuana laws.

But Friday he left a 13th Circuit courtroom in handcuffs on his way to serve a maximum 15-year prison sentence for felony sex crimes. In October, a jury found him guilty of three counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The May 31 assault occurred just one day after his victory in the Michigan Supreme Court that reshaped the state’s “zero tolerance” approach toward medical marijuana patients who get behind the wheel and drive.

“This is a pretty serious assault,” said 13th Circuit Court Judge Thomas Power.

Authorities accused Koon, 52, of Thompsonville, of sexually assaulting a female acquaintance at her Walnut Street home and drunkenly driving away.

Grand Traverse County Assistant Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg said Koon “threw caution to the wind and went out celebrating” following his legal victory and, for reasons that remain unclear, went to the victim’s home and shattered her sense of safety. The victim told Power she’s suffered insomnia, nightmares, depression, anxiety and panic attacks since the assault.

Power agreed the particulars -- in which the victim was sitting on her back porch when Koon arrived highly intoxicated, propositioned her and then began a sexual assault when she refused — required a “serious sentence.”

Koon’s attorney Randall Karfonta argued that Koon is a “solid citizen” committed to his family, active with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians, has no history of violence and “impressive” character witnesses. He also said Koon’s medical problems “perhaps” led to an alcohol problem.

“Your honor, I have a disease with alcohol,” said Koon, who added he’s been sober for the past six months and working with Alcohol Anonymous.

Koon was sentenced to a 6- to 15-year sentence. Power also ordered Koon pay a combined $2,400 for the victim’s counseling visits and a table broken in the assault.

Karfonta declined to comment after the sentencing. Koon told his tearful family and friends one last thing while being led away in handcuffs:

“I’ll be strong for you.”

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