July 13, 2021 marked the conclusion of two important cases that have been pending in the criminal justice system for years – slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic and various legal adjournments. These cases demonstrate the difficulty in investigating and prosecuting child abuse and the pressures that are placed on child-victims through the criminal justice system.
In the first case, Robert Guilmette, (pictured in red shirt) age 29, was sentenced to 11 years to 30 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections after he plead guilty to one count of Child Abuse in the First Degree. Tragically, a 4-year-old sustained a cracked skull at the hands of Mr. Guilmette and had to be treated in Grand Rapids, Michigan. As part of his plea, Mr. Guilmette admitted to breaking the hand of another 18-month-old boy in 2017 and spanking a different 18-month-old toddler hard enough to leave bruises in 2019. None of the victims could testify about the events given their age and lack of language skills, but after a very thorough investigation between the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office and the Sault Ste. Marie Police Department, the dots were all connected and Mr. Guilmette was ultimately held responsible for the children he injured.
This case was Prosecuted by Chief Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jillian A. Sadler, who was assisted by Detective Doug Mitchell of the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office and Detective Darrell Harp of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Department. The Prosecutor’s office would also like to acknowledge the support of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In the second case, former Michigan Department of Corrections Officer Clifford Earl Bailey, age 39, was sentenced to serve a prison term of 24 months to 10 years, for his convictions of Child Abuse in the Second Degree and Domestic Violence. Mr. Bailey was convicted after a three-day jury trial on April 21, 2021. The jury heard the testimony of many witnesses, but most importantly, they heard from the minor victim, who shared that on July 8, 2019, he witnessed Mr. Bailey push his mother off of a porch resulting in her falling onto a concrete slab causing injuries. The 13-year-old intervened in an attempt to protect his mom, and in response, Mr. Bailey physically kicked him off the porch onto the same concrete slab causing a break to his arm. Throughout the case the mother sided with her boyfriend, Mr. Bailey, and went as far as attempting to persuade her son to testify that it was all an accident. Courageously, the minor came forward and she was convicted of attempting to procure perjury and lying to a peace officer on July 13, 2020. Despite the pressure from his own mother, the minor victim took the stand and told the jury what happened on that terrible day.
This case was tried by Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Kristin M. Giommi, and was rigorously investigated by Sergeant Bradley Clegg of the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office. The Prosecutor’s Office would like to acknowledge and thank the victim and his family for their courage and cooperation, along with Sheriff Deputy Jeffrey Kietzman and Kinross Police Chief Joe Micolo for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution of this matter and for helping obtain justice in this case.
“Even in the most difficult of times, we remain committed and vigilant in seeking justice for the children of Chippewa County, who are the most vulnerable members of our community” said Prosecuting Attorney Robert L. Stratton, III. “It is through tenacious and complete investigations like these that we can ensure the safety of our community.”
“The citizens of Chippewa County are lucky to have such hard working and dedicated Detectives as we have here at the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office and the Sault Ste Marie Police Department. Our Law Enforcement Officers put everything into these types of investigations as there is nothing more important than protecting our children,” added Sheriff Michael Bitnar.
“The Sault Ste. Marie Police Department is proud of the investigative teamwork and collaboration between the agencies involved,” said Chief Wesley Bierling. “The relationships between our local law enforcement agencies are something very special and without doubt, a great service to our community.”
All agencies involved would like to remind the public how important it is to report child abuse to the proper authorizes, as often times children do not have the ability to speak for themselves.