Prosecutor accused of being vindictive in elevating indecent exposure charges

Becky Vargo • Jun 14, 2018 at 11:00 AM

A Grand Haven man accused of fondling himself in public will have to wait for his next day in court until a claim of “vindictive prosecution” is investigated.

Jack Arthur Roossien (this is not Dr. Jack Richard Roossien), 74, is free on bond following a preliminary examination Wednesday in Ottawa County District Court.

Ottawa County prosecutors charged him with aggravated indecent exposure — a felony — as the result of a complaint from an incident on March 8 in front of Roossien’s home on the east side of Grand Haven. If found guilty of this charge, he faces up to two years of incarceration and/or a $2,000 fine.

A witness at Wednesday’s hearing said she was on her way home from work that day when she had to stop behind another car that was blocking the street in the 1700 block of Pennoyer Avenue. That’s when she observed Roossien’s actions.

“It was really concerning because I have children and I can see his home from my home,” she said.

The woman said she lowered her window to see why the car had stopped, and she then heard Roossien yelling and “cussing.” When she looked to see if she could get around the other car, she said she saw the man “aggressively” fondling himself.

According to Michigan law, it’s the fondling part that elevates the indecent exposure to “aggravated,” making it a felony.

The man was standing on the sidewalk leading to the house, about 25-30 feet from her car, the witness testified.

Defense attorney Rob German questioned the woman, asking if Roossien was shaking his cane and not handling his genitals. The woman was adamant that neither of the canes produced in the courtroom could be mistaken for what he held in his hand. She also noted that she had never seen Roossien with a cane prior to that day.

Officer Thomas Jones of the Grand Haven Department of Public Safety verified that the man walked outside to talk to him that day without a cane, although Roossien claimed that he had a cane in his hands.

Jones testified that he had dealt with complaints regarding Roossien in the past, and had never seen him use a cane.

“I’ve had more than a few complaints with him,” the officer said.

Prior to Wednesday’s court date, Jones told German that he had never seen Roossien walk with anything other than a “normal gait.”

Prior to the hearing, German objected to the aggravated indecent exposure charge, saying the prosecutor changed it from the original misdemeanor charge when Roossien expressed his desire to take his case before a jury.

Prosecuting attorney JoEllen Haas, who was not the original prosecutor involved with the case, said that it is within the authority of the prosecutor to amend or enhance charges. Haas also noted that German was notified of the prosecution’s intent to do just that. 

Judge Craig Bunce instructed German to submit a brief within five days supporting his argument. He then told Haas that she had seven days after that to prepare a response. After that time, the judge said he will issue either a verbal or written opinion as to whether or not the change in charges amounted to “vindictive prosecution.” 

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