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SL man gets 7 years prison for molesting boy, 5

Becky Vargo • Feb 19, 2019 at 9:00 AM

A 21-year-old Spring Lake man will serve a minimum seven years in prison for molesting a 5-year-old boy two years ago.

Daniel Butler had nothing to say when he was sentenced Monday on two criminal sexual conduct convictions in Ottawa County Circuit Court.

Butler’s father was babysitting the child in June 2017, but Butler took the victim and moved him away from “the watchful eye of his father” before penetrating the boy, said Assistant Ottawa County Prosecuting Attorney Jake Jenison.

Defense attorney Ray Purdy said his client’s “mental acuity is somewhat slow.” The attorney claimed the young man’s conduct was not predatory, that it was more of a curiosity and opportunity situation.

The child’s mother said her former husband was at work and that was why a sitter was needed that day. She told the court that the situation “has had a severe impact on my son and family.” 

The mother said her young son has been mentally disabled since age 3. Later, she noted that the child has ADHD and early childhood development delays, as well as high anxiety. 

The mother said she noticed something was different about her son after the June 2017 incident, but because of his issues, it took some time to find out what had happened.

The Children’s Advocacy Center and the Bikers Against Child Abuse have been wonderful in helping the boy and his family since the incident, the mother said.

Judge Jon Hulsing said he was exceeding the sentencing guidelines in this case because what Butler had done was “heinous,” and that the Spring Lake man would have received a minimum 25-year sentence if he was convicted of what he actually did. 

The victim’s father, who is also not being identified to protect the child’s identity, was also sentenced Monday morning. He received a month in jail on a third-offense drunken driving charge.

He told the judge that he had been sober for two years before learning about the attack on his child.

“When this came up, I fell off the wagon,” the man said. “I’m sorry, your honor.”

Hulsing told the man that he was going to give him a chance to get his family back together and sentenced him to 30 days instead of the typical 60 days.

The man was given credit for four days served and will be allowed to serve his time on weekends. He was also ordered to perform 60 days of community service and was put on probation for 18 months.

Both the child’s father and other family members expressed their thanks to the judge for exceeding sentencing guidelines for Butler’s case. The mother said she was expecting a five-year sentence.

“I’m very appreciative of the judge going to a minimum of seven years,” she said. “It’s an extreme relief for me and for (the child), as well.”

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