logo



SL man gets 25-75 years prison for molesting children

Becky Vargo • Jan 4, 2018 at 11:00 AM

A Spring Lake man will spend at least 25 years in prison for the sexual assaults of two young children.

Jesse Thomas Churchley, 29, could be in prison for as long as 75 years.

“You deserve every day of that,” Judge Jon Hulsing said during the sentencing hearing Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court. “There are multiple children affected.”

Hulsing told Churchley that if he is ever released, he would be subject to lifetime electronic monitoring. He must also register as a sex offender.

Prior to Churchley’s sentencing, parents of the two children gave victim statements.

Churchley’s wife, Laura, told the judge that 25 years is too harsh. She pleaded with him to give a lesser prison term, and also order Churchley to have lifetime counseling and treatment.

Laura also read a statement from their child: “I want my dad to be punished and get better because Mommy said he is sick. I love my dad.”

Laura said her husband suffered some brain damage as a child. She noted that now that Churchley is on the proper medication, he is making better choices.

The mother of the other victim — a 5-year-old girl at the time — cried as she described the differences in her child since the abuse. She asked the judge to “pass down the heaviest sentence that is in your power.”

“The only solace I will be able to take from today is that he won’t be able to hurt more children,” she said.

The girl’s mother said her child knows that something bad happened to her, but doesn’t realize “exactly what he stole from her.

“But I know that, as she gets older and starts to understand her body and herself, that it will come back to haunt her,” she said. 

The mother said that Churchley was like family prior to the assault.

“He was a person that she trusted, that I trusted,” she said. 

Churchley stood quietly as the women spoke.

His attorney, Raymond Purdy, said his client is full of remorse and, from the beginning, wanted to step up and take responsibility for his actions.

On Nov. 22, 2017, Churchley pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a child under age 13 and to accosting children for immoral purposes. In exchange, a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge was dismissed.

Hulsing said it was a positive thing that Churchley admitted his guilt so that the children he assaulted did not have to testify during a trial, but the law required him to hand down the mandatory 25-year sentence.

Churchley was given credit for 137 days already served in jail.

Recommended for You

    Grand Haven Tribune Videos