Fri. Jul 19th, 2024

Friske arrested on suspicion of potential sex crime

By meerna Jun25,2024
Friske arrested on suspicion of potential sex crime


A heavily redacted description of the case obtained Monday by the Free Press shows that police were considering investigating state Rep. Neil Friske, R-Charlevoix, for possible first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Friske, who has not been charged with a crime in connection with the ongoing investigation into Thursday morning’s incident in Lansing, said on a Michigan radio show Monday that he was “being framed,” without explaining why he thought it was happening.

“As events unfolded, it became clear to me that something was wrong. I was framed, I tried to be framed and I was framed,” Friske said on the conservative radio show “Your Defending Fathers”: hosted by Randy “Trucker Randy” Bishop, a former GOP official in Antrim County.

Friske said he could not discuss the details of what happened, but said he had done nothing wrong and had no plans to resign. He said he plans to return to Lansing on Monday to participate in the last week of the legislative session before the summer break, starting Tuesday.

The case report filed Thursday morning after Friske’s arrest by Lansing police was almost completely redacted. The unredacted section indicates that police were treating the case as an investigation of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a crime defined in part as involving sexual penetration under duress or force.

Friske was released from Lansing police custody Friday morning and no charges have been filed against him. It is unclear whether, or what, criminal charges will be brought against the first-term lawmaker.

Scott Hughes, a spokesman for Ingham County Prosecutor John Dewane, did not have an update on the investigation when asked Monday for an estimate of how long it might take officials to decide whether to file charges.

Records obtained by the Free Press last week show that Lansing police asked Friske to face sexual assault, assault and weapons offense charges, but did not specify the scope of the charges. The report found that, at least during the investigation phase, police treated it as a first-degree criminal sexual conduct, the most serious of sexual assault charges.

Edwar Zeineh, Friske’s lawyer in Lansing, did not immediately respond to a message that Lansing police had opened an investigation for first-degree criminal sexual conduct. However, Zeineh said Friday that his office is conducting its own investigation aimed at convincing prosecutors that Friske should not be charged. He said he hopes to prove his client is innocent.

Lansing police said requests filed by the Free Press under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act were mostly denied due to the ongoing investigation. “The requested records are inextricably linked to sensitive information and their disclosure would interfere with an ongoing law enforcement investigation,” the department official wrote.

Friske was arrested around 2:45 a.m. Thursday in the 2000 block of Windbreak Lane in Lansing, Lansing Police Public Information Department Director Jordan Gulkis previously told the Free Press. Gulkis said officers were initially dispatched to the nearby 2100 block of Forest Road to respond to reports of a man with a gun, “as well as possible shots fired,” she added in the email.

Friske is a first-term Republican lawmaker representing Michigan’s 107th District, which includes all of Charlevoix and Emmet counties and parts of Cheboygan, Chippewa and Mackinac counties on both peninsulas. He has filed for re-election and will run for a second term in the House of Representatives in the fall. According to his website, he owns Friske and Sons Property Management.

In a radio interview on Monday, Friske appeared to suggest that his political opponents were somehow behind Thursday’s incident.

“That’s what these people do,” Friske said.

“I don’t even understand how someone who wants to claim to be an honest Christian can run this kind of campaign and then live with themselves.”

He added: “People can see it perfectly. It’s a centuries-old game. It’s not even new.”

Parker Fairbairn, a small business owner in Harbor Springs, filed an opposition to Friske in the August Republican primary.

In an email Monday, Fairbairn said the idea that he had anything to do with Friske’s arrest was “ludicrous.”

“My campaign was focused solely on issues and legislation, with zero personal attacks,” Fairbairn said.

Along with Friske and Fairbairn, Jodi Decker of Sault Ste. Marie has filed to run as a Democrat in the 107th District. Decker ran against Friske as the Democratic candidate in the 2022 election, losing by about 6,000 votes, or 13 percentage points.

Contact Arpan Lobo: [email protected].

Contact Paul Egan: 517-372-8660 or [email protected]. Follow him on X, @paulegan4.

By meerna

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