Traverse City Record-Eagle

April 23, 2013

Rape trial to begin today

Traverse City Record-Eagle

---- — TRAVERSE CITY — Tyler Shananaquet, 21, is accused of beating and raping a drunken woman after a bonfire party last year, and two former girlfriends allege that wasn’t his first sexual assault.

Shananaquet made another woman perform sexual acts against her will, she told detectives. Another woman said during their relationship, she awoke after a night of heavy drinking at a cabin to him raping her, according to court documents.

Those statements will be used as evidence at Shananaquet’s trial, which begins today in 13th Circuit Court and is expected to last four days.

The women came forward after Shananaquet was charged with criminal sexual conduct for assaulting and raping a woman in his truck Nov. 22 at a bonfire in Williamsburg.

Shananaquet, of Williamsburg, does not face charges related to allegations raised by the other women, said Chief Assistant Grand Traverse County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg.

“I’m hoping he doesn’t need to (be charged). I’m hoping after this one we’re done,” Moeggenberg said.

Shananaquet is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct, assault with intent to do bodily harm and as a habitual offender. He was convicted of larceny in a building in Antrim County in 2009 and has a juvenile record.

The victim in the November incident told detectives she entered Shananaquet’s truck in an open field at the bonfire and expected to get a ride home.

She testified during a preliminary examination in 86th District Court she remembered sending a text message inside the truck when Shananaquet hit her across the face. He punched, choked and raped her, the woman said.

At one point, she doubted she’d make it home alive. Shananaquet apologized and advised her to put ice on her eye before he left her a few doors down from her residence, she said.

The woman’s eye was swollen shut, and she suffered a chipped tooth and bruising to one side of her face, court records stated.

DNA tests revealed the victim’s blood in his truck, Moeggenberg said. A bracelet belonging to her was found in the vehicle, according to court documents.

The victim didn’t know Shananaquet before the incident and didn’t remember talking to him at the bonfire. She recalled Shananaquet’s truck and its interior, along with details of the assault, court documents state.

“Parts of the bonfire she doesn’t remember, but she’s pretty detailed as far as when she gets in the car. As far as we can match that up with the physical evidence, she seems right on,” Moeggenberg said. “Once trauma starts, people ... they’re sort of jolted out of their intoxication.”

Shananaquet’s attorney, Janet Mistele, declined comment.