Traverse City Record-Eagle

Archive: Thursday

November 21, 2013

Alba man pleads guilty to sex crimes

KALKASKA — An Alba man faces potential life sentences after he pleaded guilty to committing sex crimes in two counties.

Scott Wayne Buning, 20, was the subject of a Michigan State Police investigation on allegations he had sexual contact with an 11-year-old girl. He was arrested in May and charged with multiple felonies in Antrim and Kalkaska counties.

On Monday, Buning pleaded guilty in Kalkaska’s 46th Circuit Court to five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, an agreement that dropped two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. One week earlier, he accepted another plea offer in Antrim County to one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

“Overall, you should always know where kids are and know where they’re at. Be vigilant keeping an eye on your children,” said Michigan State Police Sgt. Greg Gendregske.

The investigation began in April. Gendregske said a state police detective found evidence that Buning had sexual intercourse with the victim in October and December 2012 in Kalkaska County’s Rapid River Township and Mancelona, respectively. He said Buning was a friend of the girl and her family.

Buning’s court-appointed attorney in the Antrim County case, Shawn Worden, said he couldn’t comment until after sentencing. His court-appointed attorney in Kalkaska, Thomas Seger, didn’t return a call for comment.

Court records show Buning had several prior brushes with the law, including sex crime and assault charges that were dismissed in 2012.

In April, he pleaded guilty to attempting to harbor runaways, a case Gendregske said was related to the sex crime investigation -- the victim was the same girl who spent a few days in Buning in December 2012 after running away from home. Buning pleaded guilty in April to attempted harboring runaways.

Kalkaska County Prosecutor Mike Perreault said Buning could face life imprisonment. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13 in 13th Circuit Court in Traverse City and Dec. 16 in Kalkaska’s 46th District Court. Buning remains on $2 million bond in Kalkaska County’s jail.

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