Without release, Odette defends herself in cases of sexual abuse and child pornography

Without release, Odette defends herself in cases of sexual abuse and child pornography

Arrested Aug. 11, convicted sex offender Charles Dee Odette, 59, pleaded guilty to second-degree criminal sexual conduct and possession of child sexually abusive material Friday afternoon in Branch County Circuit Court.

The wheelchair-bound prisoner will be sentenced on September 19 to a mandatory minimum of five years to 22 and a half years in prison. Circuit Judge Bill O’Grady said sentencing could come sooner if the Michigan Department of Corrections could finish its pre-sentence investigation sooner.

The Friday afternoon appeal came after Odette, who faces multiple medical issues, was denied bail modification to move into a nursing home Friday morning in District Court.

Branch County District Attorney Zack Stempien said the request “is in no way based on any lack of medical care or threat of lack of medical care provided by the Sheriff’s Department.”

“I know there’s been some talk that the Michigan Department of Corrections is better equipped to deal with someone with their medical needs,” Stempien said.

Branch County Jail Captain Fred Blankenship wrote to District Judge Brent Weigle to ask for release to a nursing facility because of the impact his care has had on the corrections team.

Only the Laurels of Coldwater offered space if the title requirements could be met. The nursing unit could not provide a safe place to avoid possible contact with other patients or visitors.

Judge Weigle ruled, saying he believes “the risk is unacceptable to reduce bail or allow the defendant to be released from prison despite his serious medical conditions”.

Public defender Matt Glazer said Odette would be better off in prison than in jail.

Odette, who can barely speak, videotaped the prison for her bail hearing. A corrections officer was sworn in to hear her answers to court questions and repeat them to the judge.

This does not meet the constitutional requirements for an appeal. With no sheriff’s vehicle equipped for disabled detainees, two officers were able to transport him in a squad car to the courthouse on Friday afternoon.

Michigan State Police investigated the claims of two girls who said Odette molested them while they all lived in the county in 2018 and 2019.

Odette was on the state sex offender registry following her 1992 conviction for first-degree criminal sexual conduct in Calhoun County.

Investigators found thousands of child pornography photos on his electronic devices after officers obtained a search warrant for his residence in Clarendon Road, Butler Township.

Branch County Jail administrators refused to accept Odette when she was arrested on the warrant on Aug. 11. Stempien and court officials established an immediate indictment. Magistrate Valerie White then ordered that he be held on $200,000 bond.

Odette is on an oxygen machine to breathe and often contracts pneumonia. Judge Weigle added that she suffers from “frequent severe hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, significant lung disease and vocal cord disease”. He also uses an insulin pump. The defendant is prescribed various medications.

Odette is on Medicaid. This will end 30 days after his arrest if he remains in prison.

Captain Blankenship said it’s not really about money.

“It’s about time, how much staff time it takes and how much nursing time it takes from the other interns,” he said. “We only have one nurse four days a week. Prison officers are not trained or CNA qualified.”

Stempien noted that Odette has “a significant history of convictions for criminal sexual conduct and prison time”.

“I believe that if he is out, there are a lot of people who could be victims again,” he said. “And even if it’s not someone he’s touching, there are victims downloading child pornography.”

This article originally appeared in The Daily Reporter: Charles Odette has not filed a plea for sexual abuse and child pornography

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