Choosing a plea agreement over chancing an unfavorable jury verdict, Michigan basketball player and Kinesiology junior Bernard Robinson pleaded guilty to two counts of assault and battery in an incident that occurred in April.
According to Department of Public Safety reports, Robinson was accused April 20 of fondling a female student in the stairwell of West Quad Residence Hall. The woman was able to escape from the stairwell and contact DPS, who arrested and released Robinson later that morning.
Robinson is a 6-foot-6 forward from Washington who averaged 32.2 minutes, with 11.7 points and 6.1 rebounds per game this past season.
His attorney, Nicholas Roumel, who works for Student Legal Services, said Robinson had originally been facing three counts of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct. Had he been found guilty of those charges, he would have been listed in the Sex Offender Registry for the next 25 years. He also could have faced up to two years in jail plus fines and fees, Roumel said.
Those charges have all been dropped as part of the plea agreement and replaced with two counts of simple assault and battery, a misdemeanor.
“He admitted to putting his arm around the waist of the complainant without her consent on two counts,” Roumel said. “It affirms what we have said all along, that he is not guilty of a criminal sexual offense.”
Roumel said the plea agreement had come unexpectedly and at the advice of Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Donald Shelton, who presided over the case.
He added that although the plea agreement was a “significant reduction” to the original charges, the agreement still holds some consequences for Robinson due to the guilty plea.
“I think there is always mixed feelings when you do that,” Roumel said. “He could have been facing a guilty charge on a sexual offense, which would have almost certainly ended his basketball career. This keeps him in school and on the team. … It’s the known versus the unknown. If you can live with the known, you have to take that seriously.”
Joseph Burke, the chief assistant prosecuting attorney, said the plea agreement was beneficial and supported by all parties involved, including the victim.
“We consulted with everyone, including the victim, to make sure that it was acceptable. We felt that the certainty of the conviction was worth taking the plea agreement,” Burke said.
Robinson is now scheduled to be sentenced on April 29 at 1:30 p.m. He could face up to 93 days in jail or receive a penalty of community service, counseling and fines.