Update as of Sept. 11: Van Neste has been bound over to circuit court where he'll face his five original charges plus two additional counts—second degree criminal sexual conduct— authorized by Judge Cynthia Siemen Platzer during a hearing today (Sept. 11).
The victim, a 15 year-old girl, took the witness stand although Platzer closed the proceedings to the public due to the sensitive nature of the case. For the complete story, pick up a copy of the Sept. 12 edition of the Tri-City Times.
CAPAC — A Capac councilmember has been arrested and lodged in the county jail on several charges related to an alleged assault that occurred on Friday.
St. Clair County Prosecutor Mike Wendling confirmed that 43 year-old Gregory VanNeste was arraigned on Sunday on two counts of first degree criminal sexual conduct, felonious assault, felony firearm and kidnapping.
According to Lt. Gary Parsons of the Lapeer State Police Post, a relative of the alleged victim contacted Capac Police on Friday. They turned the investigation over troopers.
Parsons said that VanNeste was apprehended and arrested as part of a traffic stop.
Parsons said he can't disclose the gender or age of the victim and couldn't confirm whether the assault occurred in the village.
Assistant Prosecutor Jennifer Deegan said multiple variables are used to determine the degree of the assault, like the victim's age and the use of weapons during the crime.
VanNeste is being held on a $750,000 cash surety bond. If he does post bond, he's been ordered to have no contact with the victim and must wear a GPS tether.
According to court records, he stood mute to the charges leveled against him.
A preliminary exam is set for Tuesday, Sept. 11 in front of District Judge Cynthia Platzer.
VanNeste has been a councilmember for the last four years and is one of three incumbents up for re-election in November.
Council President Mark Klug declined to comment on the matter.
VanNeste does have a 2008 arrest on his record for an alleged assault and battery incident that occurred in the village but the case was dismissed after the victim dropped the charges. He pleaded not guilty in the case.
Michigan Felon Political Ban Amendment was passed by voters in 2010 but it only prohibits someone from holding office who's been convicted of a felony involving 'breach of the public trust' or if the conviction was related to the person's elected office.
Maria Brown joined the Tri-City Times staff in 2003, the same year she earned a bachelor's degree in English from Calvin College. Born and raised in Imlay City, she now resides north of Capac where she enjoys working on the farm, gardening and reading.