Molester sent to prison for up to 15 years

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 2:03 PM

Clarence Lee Collins, 33, of Montague was ordered to serve 71 months to 15 years with the Michigan Department of Corrections when he was sentenced Monday in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

The girl and her mother both gave victim statements during the sentence hearing.

She “is an amazing little girl,” the victim’s mother said. “She was brave for coming forward with an emotional crime committed against her.”

The mother said it is particularly awful that she thought her daughter was safe with the man who ended up taking the girl’s innocence.

“It was a horrible, heartless act against such an innocent child,” the mother said.

The young girl respectfully addressed the judge with “Good morning, sir.” She then read from a tightly clutched piece of paper.

“I want Mr. Collins to go to jail for a long time,” the girl said. “I don’t want him to do this to other children.”

The girl also told the judge that she was attending counseling to help her deal with the situation.

Collins’ attorney, Chad Catalino, said despite his client’s extensive criminal history, Collins has been making strides in his rehabilitation program, held a job and had “no parole violations other than these allegations.”

Collins said he made a no-contest plea to a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge “not as a confession of guilt, but out of fear of life in prison due to my extensive criminal history.”

Collins told the judge the accusations were a setup. He said the child’s mother told him that, if he ever left her for another woman, she would make his life “a living hell,” he said when Judge Jon Hulsing asked him if he had something to say.

Collins’ previous criminal history in Ottawa County includes a parole violation and failure to comply with the state sex offender registry, both Spring Lake-area offenses from 2011. He also has a conviction for allowing an unlicensed driver to drive in Grand Haven in 2011.

Collins received credit for 40 days already served in jail. He was ordered to pay fines and costs, and continue to register as a sex offender. He will be on a lifetime electronic tether when he gets out of prison.

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