Deadline Detroit | A Michigan hockey player charged with sexually assaulting a 12-year-old child can avoid jail time, record. here’s how

Reid Boucher

The case of a hockey player who could roam freely after being accused of forcing a 12-year-old child to perform oral sex on him has sparked debate over the appropriate use of a state law that can erase the criminal convictions of minors.

Former NHL player and Grand Ledge native Reid Boucher, 28, was 17 at the time of the alleged incident and is due Monday in Washtenaw County under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA. This means he will be able to keep a clean record if he successfully completes the terms of his sentence, which will not involve jail time.

In an article reserved for subscribers, the Free press explores the arguments for and against the HYTA app, which an assault victim advocacy group says has been used in at least half a dozen Michigan cases in recent years with victims under the age of 13 year.

Those who oppose the lighter sentence — a cohort that even includes Larry Nassar’s former attorney — argue Boucher shouldn’t be eligible for it. HYTA cannot apply to cases of first-degree criminal sexual behavior, which is the typical charge of penetrating a minor under the age of 12 and punishable by 25 years to life in prison.

But Boucher reached a plea deal in which he was charged with third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving a person between the ages of 13 and 16. It’s a “fictitious plea” that is inherently against the law, some assault victim advocates and lawyers say.

Other criminal defense attorneys, however, say the deal is perfectly fine. It is not uncommon for people to be convicted of crimes that do not fit the specifics of their case and, ultimately, notes one expert, HYTA is intended as “a recognition that children are different”, due the fact that the brain does not fully develop until age 26.

The Washtenaw County District Attorney’s Office, for its part, reportedly said it pleaded to secure at least some accountability because the evidence in the case was lacking.

In approving the deal, Judge Patrick Conlin cited the 11 years that have passed since the alleged crime and Boucher’s age, reports the Free Press. Boucher’s victim, now an adult, objected.

Catherine J. Martinez