Corrections officer returns to work

ROGERS CITY – A Presque Isle County corrections officer facing two fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct charges is back to work.

Sheriff Robert Paschke said Richard David Hanson returned to work on May 5 after being placed on leave on March 12. Paschke had put him on leave after he was arrested as a result of the charges, and decided to allow him to return to work after reading a police report on the investigation.

“I felt comfortable with what was in the report to bring him back to work,” he said.

Hanson was arraigned on March 26 on the two counts in 89th District Court. Michigan State Police First Lt. Mike Hahn said in March that a MSP detective sergeant investigated after the Rogers City Police received a complaint from a woman that a sexual assault had occurred in a Rogers City residence. The department turned the complaint over to the MSP due to a perceived conflict of interest.

Hahn stressed at the time the alleged crimes didn’t occur at the Presque Isle County Jail or any other county facility, as far as the department’s investigation revealed.

The case is being prosecuted by Cheboygan County Prosecutor Daryl Vizina and heard by 88th District Court Judge Theodore Johnson, Hahn said in March. Both are handling the case because of perceived conflicts of interest by their Presque Isle County counterparts.

While Hanson is accused of two high court misdemeanors, Paschke said he believes he should be considered innocent until proven guilty.

“The way I look at it, he’s been charged, he’s been arrested on it, but he hasn’t been convicted of nothing yet,” he said.

There isn’t any department policy concerning employees charged with a crime, Paschke said. There is an item in employees’ contracts stating they will be dismissed from the job if convicted of a felony.

William Pfeifer, Hanson’s attorney, said he thinks it’s appropriate that Hanson was allowed to turn to work.

“Based on all the circumstances of the matter, I think it’s appropriate that Sheriff Paschke made a decision to allow him to return to work,” he said.

Paschke said he could change his decision based on what comes to light in a preliminary hearing, which according to court personnel is set for June 6.

Jordan Travis can be reached via email at jtravis@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5688. Follow Jordan on Twitter @jt_alpenanews. Read his blog, A Snowball’s Chance, at www.thealpenanews.com.