Vassar man to spend next quarter century in prison for assaulting 6-year-old
A 33-year-old Vassar man will spend the next 25 to 60 years in prison for sex offenses against a child.
Matthew James Hemmen was sentenced to the lengthy prison term Monday in Tuscola County Circuit Court. In May, Hemmen pleaded no contest to three counts first-degree criminal sexual assault. As part of the plea agreement, one additional count of first-degree CSC and eight counts of second-degree CSC were dropped.
A no-contest plea is not an admittance of guilt, but is used as such for sentencing purposes. By definition, first-degree criminal sexual conduct involves sexual penetration while second-degree CSC is limited to touching.
The charges against Hemmen stemmed from multiple incidents that occurred at Hemmen’s Vassar apartment during the 2015 calendar year. At least one of the incidents occurred when the victim and her brother – family friends of Hemmen – were left in his care. The 6-year-old victim referred to Hemmen as “Uncle Matt” according to court records.
Hemmen was arraigned on the 12 CSC charges in November, after the incidents came to light. Hemmen confessed to the accusations during interviews with the Vassar Police Department.
“It was very ironic, because he came completely clean,” Vassar Police Officer Jody Grant told The Advertiser in May. “He didn’t hold anything back. He gave information during his confession that wasn’t disclosed yet in the complaint. His statements superseded what the allegations were.”
Grant, who was lead investigator on the case, said Hemmen initially requested an attorney in November, but turned himself in to the Vassar Police Department the following day and confessed to the crimes.
“In my mind, that’s a bad person,” Grant said. “This guy even told me he needed to be in jail. He knew what he did was wrong, he just wanted to come clean with it.”
Tuscola County Prosecutor Mark Reene said information regarding the 2015 incidents were reported last fall and were immediately investigated.
“I think it’s another situation, which we seem to be encountering more and more, when someone certainly takes advantage of a child victim, and exploits that child victim for their own selfish purposes,” Reene said in May. “One of the many consequences and collateral aspects of that is the long-term and incalculable effects it has on the children.
“Every aspect of life is impacted to some extent.”
In most cases of alleged first-degree CSC, a suspect will either plead to a lesser charge, or take the case to trial. In this instance, Hemmen stood to be given consecutive prison sentences, as opposed to concurrent sentences.
“(Hemmen) was actually initially subject to consecutive sentencing,” Reene explained. “So by entering this plea, that is no longer going to be applicable. But he will be subject to the mandatory minimum 25-years sentence.”
In the majority of sentences, individuals are given concurrent jail or prison terms when convicted of more than one crime, which means all sentences are served at the same time. When a person is sentenced to serve consecutively, he must serve the sentences one after the other.
For example, if a suspect receives three five-year sentences to be served concurrently, he will serve a total of five years of incarceration. If a suspect receives three five-year sentences to be served consecutively, he will spend 15 years in incarceration.
In many plea agreements, a Cobbs agreement is reached with prosecution and defense attorneys outlining a likely punishment which also suits the judge. In Hemmen’s case, there was no Cobbs agreement, but simply the understanding that whatever sentence he receives for the three convictions will be served concurrently.