PESHAWBESTOWN -- A council member with the Grand Traverse Band of Ottawa and Chippewa Indians faces a criminal sexual conduct charge in Kent County.

Joseph C. "Buddy" Raphael was arraigned July 23 on a single count of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct. A preliminary examination is scheduled for Aug. 17.

Raphael, who served as tribal chairman from 1980 through 1996 and remains on the council, was charged after a July 17 incident.

Raphael, 67, allegedly approached an undercover Kent County sheriff's deputy on a trail, according to court documents. He allegedly grabbed the deputy's genitals through his pants after a brief conversation.

The alleged incident occurred in Grand Rapids' Donald Lamoreaux Park on Bailey Park Drive. The park is near the Grand River and it is sometimes called Bailey Park by locals, a park official said.

The park is notorious for inappropriate sexual activity, something area residents complain about to authorities, said Lt. Kevin Kelley, of the Kent County Sheriff's Office.

Raphael was arrested there as part of an undercover sting operation, he said.

"There's somewhat of a consistent plan to do this type of sting out there twice a year," Kelley said.

Raphael previously lived and worked in the Grand Rapids area, according to a biography on the tribe's Web site.

He also was "very active" in the juvenile court system in Grand Rapids and served as minority liaison to the Kent County Juvenile Court, according to the biography.

Raphael declined comment when reached Tuesday.

His position on the council currently is not in jeopardy. Council members are only removed if convicted of a felony offense, said Tribal Chairman Derek Bailey.

Fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct is a misdemeanor that carries a possible two-year prison term or a fine of up to $500, with a conviction.

Bailey declined to comment on Raphael's case.

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