On October 1 former Michigan high school resource Officer Matthew Priebe, 35, was sentenced to one year in jail after being convicted of sexually assaulting three female students in Lansing, Michigan.
Priebe was an officer with the Lansing Police Department, he pleaded no contest to five charges in connection to three victims, including criminal sexual conduct against a minor, two counts of assault, misconduct in office, and attempted criminal sexual conduct.
A no contest plea results in a conviction without the defendant admitting guilt. A sixth charge for sending sexually explicit material to a minor was dropped as a part of his plea deal, according to court records.
The abuse was ongoing from 2016 through 2018, according to court documents. Three female students at Lansing Eastern High School said Priebe tried to kiss and molest them either in the school or in his patrol car.
One victim was a 16-year-old junior at the school where Priebe worked as a school resource officer. A security guard introduced Athziry Pilar to Priebe because she had aspirations to become a police officer, according to her victim impact statement read in open court by her attorney Karen Truszkowski.
WILX News reports Pilar was abused over and over again by Priebe. It started with Priebe sending her inappropriate text messages and forcing her to hold his bare genitals.
The emotional toll of the abuse caused Pilar to skip school and fail classes, she wrote in her statement.
Priebe played with the holes in another victim's jeans near her thigh and would ask her if she wanted to touch his penis. During a ride along, Priebe stopped his patrol vehicle and attempted to kiss the girl. When she tried to push him off, Priebe grabbed her hand and pulled it toward his crotch.
Priebe also sent the girl a photo of himself sitting on a couch wearing boxers and a shirt with his erect penis exposed.
A third female victim went to say hello to Priebe before a sporting event, he closed the door and hugged her and tried to pull her dress up. Even as the girl pulled the dress back down, Priebe tried several more times to pull it back up, almost far enough to see her underwear.
Concerning his reckless actions Priebe said in court:
“I am extremely aware and understand the hurt and confusion and pain I’ve caused to the victims in this case and their families.”
On May 31, 2018 the Michigan State Police started a criminal investigation into the allegations. Priebe resigned a few weeks later in June 2018 from the Lansing Police Department prior to the completion of the investigations.
Judge Joyce Draganchuk said the following to Priebe at his sentencing,
“To say you violated your role as a police officer would be an understatement.”
Lansing Police Chief Mike Yankowski said this in a statement from 2018:
“All allegations or complaints against department members are taken seriously and thoroughly investigated. The allegation against Priebe in this matter is disappointing and once I was made aware of the allegations I took swift action to remove his police authority and requested the Michigan State Police to investigate the allegations.”
Priebe was also sentenced to five years of probation, and he is required to register with the Michigan Sex Offender Registry for 25 years. The sentence was the maximum allowed under Priebe’s plea agreement.