Former Michigan Mayor Convicted on Indecent Exposure Counts
(CNSNews.com) - An eastern Michigan jury convicted a former mayor of Port Huron Tuesday on nine indecent exposure charges, but the jury couldn't reach a verdict on the 16 felony sexual misconduct charges.
After the verdict, Judge Peter Deegan immediately sentenced former Port Huron Mayor Gerald "Ajax" Ackerman to one year in prison on the nine misdemeanor counts that will be served concurrently. Ackerman, 42, had no visible reaction when the verdicts were read.
The allegations against Ackerman, once hailed as a role model who used his story of how he overcame drug and alcohol addictions to motivate others, involved 11 girls, ranging in age from 8 to 15.
When the judge asked if he would like to make a statement, Ackerman responded, " I don't understand why I'm being treated different, prior to these allegations, there is no history of me ever having a problem with children."
The jury reached the verdicts after more than 15 hours of deliberation over four days.
One woman started to cry when she heard the sentence, and the judge ordered her and three other women to leave the courtroom. As she was escorted out by a deputy sheriff, she screamed obscenities.
Saint Clair County, Michigan prosecutor Peter George said after the verdict, "Although the jury was not able to unanimously agree that Mr. Ackerman committed criminal sexual conduct, we believe Mr. Ackerman is accountable for those counts and we expect to strenuously pursue those charges in retrial."
Assistant County Prosecutor Mona Armstrong added that a retrial could come as early as January.
Ackerman was mayor of Port Huron, Michigan in November 1997 and resigned in April 1999, one day after the first charges against him were filed.
While Mayor, Ackerman initiated programs that once earned him the title of "Michigan Public Citizen of the Year."