By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers
SOUTHGATE — A former Southgate police officer will spend at least a year in prison unless a planned appeal succeeds in reducing that sentence, if not conviction.
On Thursday Wayne County Circuit Court Judge Annette Berry ordered Emmanuel Paravas to one to five years in prison following his conviction last month of misconduct in office. Paravas, 44, was acquitted of two other charges, criminal sexual conduct and neglect of duty.
The charges resulted from an encounter between Paravas and a woman who was involved in a domestic dispute while staying at La Quinta Inn, 12888 Reeck Road, in February 2011.
To separate the feuding couple, Paravas took the woman to Holiday Inn Southgate, 17201 North Line Road, and in the early morning hours returned twice to the woman’s room. A sexual encounter took place that she claimed was rape but Paravas said was consensual.
Defense attorney Michael Rataj called the sentence “outrageous,” and planned to submit several motions this week or next.
“We are appealing not only the sentence but the conviction,” Rataj said. “She sentenced him as if he was convicted of (criminal sexual conduct).”
Rataj said that a previous Court of Appeals ruling determined that “There is no such action as ‘misconduct in office’” and that he is preparing motions to grant Paravas bond and reverse the conviction and sentence.
The prosecution understood that Berry’s ruling was based on factors not clarified in the guidelines. Assistant Prosecutor Qiana Lilliard said that Berry reviewed for the attorneys several reasons in her decision.
Factors that could weigh on judicial sentences include the vulnerability of a victim and position held by the defendant, in this case a police officer.
During last month’s trial, the victim testified that Paravas told her, “wise up or you’re going to jail” before handcuffing and raping her.
Lillard said the trial was particularly challenging with concerns that jurors might hold preconceived notions about both the accused or the victim. The woman performed in adult nightclubs, and by her own admission spent much of the evening and night drinking.
“With a police officer as the defendant, some people don’t trust or like police. Some think they can do no wrong,” Lillard said. “The complainant was not only an adult entertainer, she clearly had an alcohol problem. Some of that could have gone either way.”
Paravas at first denied any sexual contact with the woman, who called Michigan State Police investigators five days after the encounter. She testified that she was scared of accusing a police officer of a crime, and skeptical that she would be believed.
During the trial, jurors listened to a 90-minute interview with Paravas and two State Police detectives. After insisting that he “did not have sex” with the woman, when confronted with potential evidence he admitted to the encounter but said she had seduced him.
“She was grateful and wanted to show me,” Paravas told investigators. “She wasn’t forced to do anything.”
Under department rules, Paravas was given a Garrity hearing by the Southgate Police Department shortly after the state investigators interviewed him. He resigned from the department in March and was arraigned in May.
Under the terms of the sentence, Paravas will serve a minimum of one year in prison before being eligible for parole, unless an appeal results in reduction of that time.