CLEARFIELD – An Eldred man accused of sexually assaulting a man with the intellectual capacity of a child was in court Tuesday morning for sentencing.
Michael James French, 46, pleaded guilty to aggravated assault and indecent assault. Judge Paul E. Cherry sentenced him to one to eight years in state prison.
He was ordered to complete sex offender counseling and he must register his address with authorities under Megan’s Law.
According to the affidavit of probable cause, on Aug. 19, 2016, a witness crossing the Nichols Street Bridge in Clearfield Borough saw two men in the area below the back deck of the former Dinger’s building. The first male was performing a sex act on the other.
When police arrived, they found French and a 22-year-old man who they recognized as someone who is intellectually limited.
French told police that he was in DuBois the previous night when he was picked up by police for sleeping in the park. Because he was intoxicated, he was taken to the county jail.
After he was released, he was waiting for his father to pick him up when he met the victim outside Sheetz. French denied doing anything wrong and stated he was only hanging out with the man.
French was asked a second time what happened and he then admitted he and the victim were having oral sex.
An officer then spoke with the victim’s mother. She said he was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, cerebral palsy, pervasive development disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
After the victim was evaluated by a clinical neuropsychologist in October of 2016, he was found to have the intellectual functioning of an eight to 10-year-old child and therefore would not be able to make decisions for himself. He is not capable of making safe choices and is vulnerable to manipulation by others, the doctor said.
During the evaluation, the victim told the doctor about the incident. He said that “I kinda wanted to but then I had a second thought, like maybe I don’t want to, but then I just stuck with the original one.”
He didn’t tell the man he was having second thoughts “because I didn’t want him to think I was being mean or nothing.” And he said he wanted a new friend. He admitted he sometimes does things he does not want to do in order to make new friends.
The doctor determined that the victim was incapable of giving consent for sexual relations.