Jury finds Kingsford men not guilty of sexual assault

Charges of felony assault also dismissed after week-long trial

(Nikki Younk/Daily News photo) From left, Kenneth Parent and his defense attorney, Michael Scholke, and defense attorney Gregory Seibold and his client, Brent Clement, await the reading of the verdict in Clement and Parent’s criminal sexual conduct and assault trial in Dickinson County Circuit Court.

IRON MOUNTAIN — Two Kingsford men accused of beating and sexually assaulting a woman in June were acquitted on all charges Friday after a week-long trial in Dickinson County Circuit Court.

The jury of seven men and five women deliberated for about 3 1/2 hours Friday afternoon before returning the not guilty verdicts for 33-year-old Brent Thomas Clement and 45-year-old Kenneth Robert Parent on felony criminal sexual conduct-first degree and felony assault with intent to do great bodily harm less than murder or by strangulation.

Judge Mary Barglind dismissed the charges and allowed Clement to be released from jail. Parent already had been free on bond.

Neither man took the stand in his own defense and, in fact, the defense opted to not call any witnesses. Prosecutors called 15 witnesses, including the woman, neighbors, police officers, medical personnel and forensic scientists.

Prosecutors had argued Clement and Parent dragged the woman into a wooded area near their home June 11 to beat and rape her after she argued with her then-boyfriend Clement because he suspected she was using methamphetamine. 

However, defense attorneys contend the woman’s injuries could have been caused by her stumbling down the street and the wooded hill while in a drug-induced state, while Clement’s DNA on the woman was from consensual sex the previous day.

Dickinson County Prosecutor Lisa Richards said in closing statements it almost seemed as if the woman was on trial this week instead of Clement and Parent. Someone who uses “bad judgment,” as the woman had with her admitted drug use, shouldn’t automatically be dismissed as untrustworthy, the prosecutor argued.

The woman’s story was supported by other witnesses, Richards said, such as a neighbor who heard a male and a female voice outside her home that night, doctors who claimed the woman’s injuries appeared more consistent with an assault than a fall down a hill, and forensic scientists who found Clement’s DNA matched evidence from the woman’s sexual assault examination.

Although the woman had trouble remembering the incident clearly, she was consistent on the “sum and substance” of what had happened, according to Richards. And Richards claimed it was “unconscionable” for Clement and Parent to “beat her to unconsciousness and then use that unconsciousness as their defense.”

Clement’s attorney, Gregory Seibold, and Parent’s attorney, Michael Scholke, didn’t believe the prosecution met its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Clement never was physically violent with the woman in the past and the jury heard no evidence he had a violent nature, Seibold said. Furthermore, Seibold claimed Clement had no motive to hurt the woman, since she already had left their house as he wanted after the argument about methamphetamine.

Neighbors’ timelines of the night didn’t add up, Seibold said, noting one heard a male and a female voice at the top of the wooded hill at about the same time another heard the woman moaning at the bottom of the hill.

Doctors testified the drugs in the woman’s system, including methamphetamine, Adderall, Suboxone and a prescribed bipolar medication, can cause hallucinations, Seibold and Scholke pointed out. The woman truly might believe the assault and rape actually happened, Scholke said, but it could be a “misremembered event.”

Parent’s DNA wasn’t found anywhere on the woman, Scholke added, telling the jury the woman’s word alone was not enough to convict either man.

Nikki Younk can be reached at 906-774-2772, ext. 41, or nyounk@ironmountaindailynews.com.