Many questions in Cross casePublished 9:56pm Monday, April 4, 2011
Investigators from the Michigan State Police Department have not yet received video evidence in the investigation of Niles Police Officer Ivery Cross, who is accused of sexually assaulting a 19-year-old male inmate at the Niles Law Enforcement Center last month.
Det. Mike Spring of the State Police Paw Paw Post, who is handling the investigation while Det. 1st Lt. Charles Christensen is on vacation, said the state police is still awaiting video from Niles Police Department security cameras from the night of the alleged offense.
“I’ve not seen it yet,” Spring said. “They (Niles police) are in the process of pulling it off the hard drive.”
Spring is also unsure of exactly where the alleged assault took place. At a press conference last week, Christensen said the alleged offense took place in a holding cell. But a press release from the office of Berrien County Prosecutor Art Cotter said it happened in a bathroom at the facility.
Spring said there is video of Cross and the victim together but no footage of any criminal activity.
Niles Police Department Chief Ric Huff declined to comment on the investigation. When asked if it is out of the ordinary for a police officer to be alone with an inmate in the holding facility, he also declined comment.
“Most of our officers conduct investigations by themselves. We don’t have the manpower to send multiple officers to calls all the time,” he said.
Few details have been released about the alleged victim. Spring said he is from the Niles area but would not give a specific location.
The alleged victim was arrested for possession of marijuana by Cross on March 17, but Spring didn’t have any other information on his criminal history. Spring also said the victim didn’t know Cross.
Cross, a 25-year-old with two years of experience on the force, is suspended without pay and is no longer employed as an assistant football coach with Niles High School, a position he has held for several years.
Facing charges of criminal sexual conduct in the 1st degree and 2nd degree, Cross could face life in prison if convicted. The Berrien County Jail in St. Joseph confirmed Friday afternoon that Cross was no longer lodged there, but would not confirm whether he had bonded out or transferred to another facility.
Cross’ supporters vehemently argued his innocence at his arraignment Thursday, accusing the media of having “already lynched” him before a trial. But court documents reveal that Cross allegedly confessed to Spring to “touching the victim in genital areas on one occasion after asking him (the victim) to masturbate in his presence.”
The investigation stems from the alleged victim contacting a law enforcement agency about the alleged offense, Spring said. That agency contacted the Niles Police Department, and that’s when the state police began the investigation.
Cross appears in court Thursday for a status conference followed by a preliminary hearing set for April 12.