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Family doesn't believe sex assault claim against retired Kinde teacher

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The 92-year-old suspect will undergo a psychiatric examination to see if he is fit for trial

HURON COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - A family says the sex assault allegations made against a retired Huron County teacher are not true.

At 92 years old, David Winston was a well-respected teacher in the North Huron school district for more than three decades. The sex assault accusation against him has shocked the Kinde area.

Winston is going to undergo a psychiatric evaluation before the prosecution's case can proceed.

One family who knows the man well say they just don't believe it. The Brackenrich family, which has known Winston for years, says he has dementia and even a confession wouldn't convince them that he did it.

"Dave is like a grandfather to me," 31-year-old Travis Brackenrich said. "Over the years he became like family." 

Brackenrich said his two brothers and several friends used to hang out at Winston's home.

"We had several kids stay the night with us over there. Dave was pretty much the go-to house when you were younger growing up," Brackenrich said.

He's upset that Winston is now charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct with a person under the age of 13. The incidents are alleged to have happened in the late 1990s at Winston's Kinde-area home.

The alleged victim, a man now in his late 30s, originally told police about the abuse in 2015.

"When I hear it come back in 2022 again, it was very frustrating," Brackenrich said.

He and his family know about the past allegation because they were part of a Bad Axe Police Department extortion investigation in 2015.

Investigators were trying to determine whether Winston was being blackmailed into paying a man more than a $100,000 over several years. No extortion charges were filed.

The same man eventually went to Michigan State Police in 2022 with a claim that Winston molested him. Brackenrich's father, Danny, said his family also received financial help from Winston.

"Dave helped us a great amount. He was putting my wife through nursing school and stuff," Danny Brackenrich said.

Investigators will not confirm whether Winston confessed to the abuse, but Danny wouldn't believe it even if he did.

"Dave is all confused. Now he's saying he never did nothing to nobody. I am saying he is not stable," Danny said.

The prosecution and Winston's attorney have agreed that Winston will be sent to the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti for a competency exam to determine whether he is mentally fit for trial.

Anchor/Reporter

Terry Camp anchors ABC12 News First at Four and ABC12 News at 5:30. He also reports on issues in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

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