Alger deputy may face charges in alleged assault

MARQUETTE – A deputy with the Alger County Sheriff’s Department is facing possible charges following the investigation into an alleged assault of an inmate.

The deputy sheriff, whose name has not been released, is accused of assaulting 55-year-old George Young, who is currently facing eight charges of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, in December.

“There was an incident between a deputy sheriff and George Young and it’s being investigated as an assault,” Alger County Sheriff Robert Hughes said Tuesday.

Hughes said the deputy was placed on administrative leave following the alleged incident and that Young was then transferred to Schoolcraft County Jail at the request of his attorney, Brandon Rickard. Young has been free on bond since last week.

Young, a former employee of the HealthQuest chiropractic clinic in Munising, is facing eight charges of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, using force or coercion. The accusations are related to Young’s role as a chiropractor, but Rickard has contended that nothing inappropriate took place and that any touching of patients was “in the course of treatment and necessary.”

Rickard said this morning that the deputy at the center of the investigation was the husband of an alleged victim.

“We’re glad (Sheriff Hughes) acknowledges the fact this incident happened, but we’re a little disappointed Mr. Young was ever put in that position,” he said.

Additionally, Rickard said he thinks charges should be brought against a second deputy, who allegedly removed Young from his cell and transported him to an unsecured area.

Incidents involving sheriff’s deputies in the state are often investigated by the Michigan Sheriffs Special Investigation Operations Network team, which is made up of specially trained law enforcement officers from sheriff’s departments around the state. The MISSION team is intended to provide “an outside, objective investigation,” according to Terry Jungel, the executive director of the Michigan Sheriff’s Association.

Jungel confirmed last week that the MISSION team was investigating an incident in Alger County, though he would not elaborate on specifics.

The team, he said, investigates both criminal and administrative complaints and is called in at the request of a local sheriff. Sheriff Hughes confirmed Tuesday that he had requested the investigation upon learning of the allegations in late December.

He said the MISSION team’s report is complete and said it is his understanding that the Alger County Prosecutor’s office had petitioned the office of the Michigan Attorney General for the appointment of a special prosecutor to the case. No charges have been filed at this time.

A representative with the attorney general’s office was unable to verify whether that request had been made prior to press time today.

In addition to the criminal charges, Rickard said he will be seeking further relief on behalf of his client.

“We’re going to file a … civil rights lawsuit in the federal court and we know for a fact that we are naming two deputies and the county of Alger,” Rickard said. “We haven’t made any further decisions, yet.”

Kyle Whitney can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250.