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Michigan firefighter facing rape charges

A local firefighter from Rockford - an hour outside Kalamazoo - is facing allegations that he raped a woman in her Brighton Township, Pennsylvania home. The man - recognized as his city's top firefighter last year - now faces felony charges of rape, aggravated assault and several misdemeanor sexual assault charges.

The woman reported the alleged rape to local police on Oct. 3. According to the police report, the woman and the 50-year-old firefighter were at her home, lying in bed talking about their relationship. When the firefighter made sexual advances toward the woman, she claims that she refused. She even used her knees to block his advances, but alleges that he still managed to force himself on her. The woman later attempted to take a shower, but claims that the firefighter refused to let her leave the bedroom. The woman then crawled into bed and fell asleep. The next morning, the firefighter left to go back to Michigan.

Rape is also known first-degree sexual assault in some states and is considered a felony crime. Sexual assault refers to any sexual contact between people that is not consensual. It can be between any two people - a woman and a man, two men, two women, two children or even a married couple. It is considered criminal sexual conduct and the penalties vary by state, although the personal and professional consequences of being charged with such a crime are common regardless of where such charges are filed.

Here, the defendant is a 15-year veteran firefighter, and served in the military for the 10 years before that, including the presidential honor guard. In addition to his 2011 top firefighter award, the defendant owns a business in Grand Rapids. It is crucial to remember that defendants in criminal cases are entitled to a presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The mere fact that criminal charges have been filed - regardless of the eventual outcome of the case - can threaten everything one has worked for and built.

Source: Times Online, "Michigan firefighter charged with rape in Brighton Twp.," Patrick O'Shea, Oct. 27, 2012

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