Man gets jail, probation for attack on GVSU student

Becky Vargo • Sep 6, 2017 at 11:00 AM

A Kalamazoo man apologized profusely to his victim before being sentenced to a year in jail for an assault on the Grand Valley State University co-ed earlier this year.

Zachary Ryan-Everett Williams was given credit for 156 days already served in jail when sentenced on Tuesday in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

Judge Karen Miedema told the 20-year-old man that she had been on the fence as far as deciding whether or not to send him to prison, but that he would have to be on his best behavior during three years of probation once he got out of jail.

During that time he must not consume any drugs or alcohol and have no contact with his victim. He will be on alcohol monitoring for 90 days after he gets out of jail. He must also pay restitution for some clothing and for medical costs. He was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.

If he violates any of the terms of his probation, he will go to prison, Miedema said.

The 20-year-old victim told the judge that she no longer wants to be touched since the incident, that she is on medications for anxiety and worries about how she will continue to pay the co-pays for her counseling. She also said she will not sleep without locking her bedroom door every night.

She told the judge that Williams should not be drinking and “needs to be sentenced appropriately.”

Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office deputies responded to the 48th Avenue apartment near Grand Valley State University after being alerted about a disorderly person on April 2, according to their report.

The residents had invited the young man to the apartment and at some point, the young man started making out with the victim in her room, according to the report. At some point, she told him to stop, but he started choking her.

The residents were eventually able to get the man out of the apartment, but at some point some items were scattered and destroyed.

Police arrested the man at the scene and he was charged with assault by strangulation and larceny in a building. The larceny charge was dismissed when Williams entered a no contest plea to the assault charge on Aug. 7.

Defense attorney Robert Hackett said his client “has always been clear with me that what he did was shameful, that he decided early on that he was going to move forward with a plea” so that the victim wouldn’t have to deal with a trial.

After the victim made her statement, Williams turned to her and apologized. At the judge’s instruction, he turned back and read a statement.

“Growing up, I witnessed my mother be a victim of assault and verbal abuse,” Williams said. “I’m truly sickened by what I have done. I look in the mirror and see a monster.”

Williams said he hoped that his victim would heal and eventually forgive him.

“The version of me who was arrested is not who I am,” he said.

He admitted that he turned into another person when he used alcohol, and noted that despite how bad the situation was, he would turn it into a learning experience for himself.

“Never in my life did I expect to be the cause of so much grief,” he said.

Miedema said the decision Williams made on that night will affect both the victim and the defendant for a very long time.

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