James G. Lyman is a 26-year-old from Sebewaing in Huron County, Michigan. He is said to have the intellect of a child. Although he is 26, his attorney says he functions at the age level of a child younger than 10. Despite this obvious handicap, Lyman was still able to create a profile on the a dating website called Plenty of Fish. Online, he met women and set up dates. One of those dates ended up with Lyman overstepping his bounds and now he is headed to jail as a result.
According to Lyman’s testimony in Bay County County court, he met his accuser in February of 2014 online and set up a date with her. “She invited me over to her apartment here in Bay City” he told the court., “I drove from my house in Sebewaing all the way over to where she lives. She asked if I wanted to kiss her. We went to her room and ended up having sex, then she told me to leave. When she told me to stop, I didn’t stop. ”
When the judge asked for further clarification, Lyman admitted that the woman had told him to stop during sex, but he had chosen not to. Lyman had initially entered a plea of guilty to a single count of third degree criminal sexual conduct, to which Bay County Circuit Judge Joseph K. Sheeran had agreed to sentence him to one year in jail. In Michigan, a prearranged plea deal with the judge is called a Cobbs agreement.
It was later discovered that the Judge Sheeran could not sentence someone who had pled guilty to Third Degree CSC to a only a year in the county jail. For this reason, Lyman had to retract his prior plea, and enter a new plea on the record which would allow the judge to sentence him to the Cobbs agreement year in jail.
Lyman entered a plea of Second Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct at his sentencing hearing. That allowed Judge Sheeran to sentence him to spend one year in the Bay County Jail. He also granted Lyman credit for time served in the form of 282 days, which leaves less than three months of time he will have to serve. However, he might be released very soon because inmates in Michigan county jails get “sheriff’s good time credit” if they behave. After his release from the county jail, Lyman will be on probation for three years and on Michigan’s public Sex Offender Registry.
At the sentencing hearing, Judge Sheeran addressed his concerns with Lyman which stemmed primarily from Lyman’s intellectual capabilities. “We want you to be successful in this.” The judge said, after explaining that there will be rules that will have to be followed. “If you need any help, please ask for it.” Lyman agreed to do so, saying “Yes, your Honor.”
Lyman’s defense attorney also expressed concern for Lyman’s term in jail which will be hard for a man whose intellectual and emotional capacity is claimed to be that of a prepubescent child. “We have concerns for him even in the county jail atmosphere, but we recognize there are consequences for his conduct.” We wonder about his capacity to pass his driver’s license test, operate his car and navigate the internet with mental limitations.
Lyman was escorted from the courtroom by a Bay County Sheriff’s deputy and transported to jail, where he will serve out the rest of his sentence. Lyman will be out of jail as soon as his good time credit allows.