MENOMINEE—Former Menominee County Sheriff’s deputy Brian Helfert will go to trial on sexual assault charges at the end of February.
Menominee County Circuit Judge Mary Brouillette Barglind set the new date at a pretrial hearing Monday in her courtroom. The trial will begin the morning of Feb. 22, 2022, (a Tuesday) and could run for six days through March 2. It will be held in the 41st Circuit Court under the direction of Barglind. The 41st Circuit Court encompasses Menominee, Dickinson and Iron counties.
The trial is not starting on Feb. 21, 2022, because that is Presidents’ Day, a federal holiday. It was originally scheduled for early November, but was delayed because of a COVID outbreak at the courthouse.
Additionally, motion hearings will take place in January.
Helfert, 57, Menominee, faces more than a dozen felony charges of repeated sexual assault of a teenage boy. The 16 charges against Helfert include eight counts of criminal sexual conduct—first degree. The maximum penalty for each of those counts is life in prison.
The defendant, who also served as a school liaison officer, is out on a personal recognizance (PR) bond. He can’t have any contact with the alleged victims or any minors.
“We had no choice on the bond,” Menominee County Prosecutor Jeffrey Rogg said last month. “Defendants in custody are required to be tried within six months. We can’t do that now. Thus the PR bond.”
At the preliminary hearing in May in Menominee County District Court, the court heard from two witnesses—a 23-year-old man who said he was in a sexually abusive relationship with Helfert for about six years and the man’s mother. The EagleHerald does not print the names of possible sexual assault victims without their consent.
The alleged victim—who had aspirations of becoming a police officer—told how the former deputy allegedly groped him in his squad car during “ride alongs” while out in the county and on a police boat, just offshore during the city’s Waterfront Festival and how Helfert and he allegedly had sexual relations dozens, if not hundreds, of times in a spare bedroom of Helfert’s Menominee home.
At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, Menominee County District Judge Robert J. Jamo dismissed two charges from an 11-count felony complaint, but he added seven more charges to bring the total to 16.
A preliminary examination is a sort of mini trial, where the prosecution is required to show that there is probable cause that the charged crime was committed and that it is more likely than not that the accused committed that crime. Jamo had the option to: bind the defendant over for trial, bind some of the charges over for trial or dismiss all of the charges.
Helfert completed a six-month jail sentence last May for attempted accosting of different male boy for immoral purposes while he was a resource officer at Menominee High School.
On June 7, Helfert stood mute and formally waived his arraignment in writing as Judge Barglind entered not guilty pleas on his behalf.
At the June arraignment, Rogg responded to the plea deal reached with the first victim. “The reason that plea was entered and agreed to by me—and blessed by the victim—is because the victim did not want to endure any more participation in the court system and be re-victimized. That’s the reason it was done. Not because Mr. Helfert’s conduct was somehow less culpable than what he was charged with.”
Trenton Stupak, an attorney from Escanaba, is handling the defense.