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Prosecutor explains slow pace of 64 GHOST cases in court

The Genesee County Prosecutor said only about 22-percent of the cases have made it all the way through the court system.
Published: Aug. 19, 2020 at 6:28 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (8/19/2020) - The Genesee County Sheriff announced 17 more arrests in the latest GHOST operation. The men ages 22 – 53 are charged with various counts, one of those holds a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The Sheriff's Office has conducted these stings since April 2019.

At the Genesee County Prosecutor's count, the Sheriff's Office has arrested 65 people since the GHOST operations started. Charges stuck for 64 of them. Only about 22-percent of those have made it all the way through the court system.

“There are many,many hurdles of due process that have to be covered, to make sure that the individual accused is getting fair treatment in the court so it just takes time,” Prosecutor David Leyton explained.

He said none of these 64 cases have dealt with any unusual delays and called the 14 convictions a "great start."

“Because we really only just started with the intense portion of litigating these cases in the courts,” he said.

Of the 14 people who have been held accountable, only 1 went to trial.

In February this year, George Huffman received a minimum sentence of 3 years in prison after a jury convicted him of child sexually abusive material. The charges of accosting a child for immoral purposes and using a computer to commit a crime were dropped.

The other 13 convicted agreed to plea, which Leyton said saves taxpayers time and money.

“Most of these individuals plead to crimes that end up with sentences very similar to what they would have received had they gone to trial and been convicted,” Leyton explained.

With a police officer as the main witness, Leyton said the cases aren't all that difficult.

The 64 were caught because investigators said they interacted with a GHOST member online who was posing as a 14-year-old. Then, they plan to meet at a local hotel to engage in a sexual activity and that's where they're arrested.

“I have no doubt it’s protecting our community,” Leyton said. “And, I think the more of these we do, eventually, I’m hopeful that these cases will dry up and folks will at least, if they’re going to continue to do this perverted type of activity they’ll do it elsewhere.”

Leyto added since the GHOST operation started, both the former and current Sheriffs consult with him to make sure they're doing everything right.

He said there’s proof they are because no judge has dismissed a case yet.

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