Mike Akiyoshi: Is this what justice should look like?
On July 31, Michael Akiyoshi was arrested by Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies for contact with a minor for the purpose of having sex.
The deputies alleged the conversation with a 15-year-old girl had been going on for weeks. They alleged further that the arrest occurred at a home on Willow Valley Road where Michael was intercepted with methamphetamine, alcohol, whipped cream and condoms. He was also accused of furnishing a controlled substance to a minor.
On Aug. 1, an article was prominently published in The Union stating all the items above along with his picture giving the reading public the impression that Michael had a weeks-long ongoing relationship with a 15-year-old girl and that he had gone to a house to meet with her for the purpose of having sex. The truth is that, in fact, there was never a young girl and that Michael was not arrested at a house. The “girl” was a police decoy and he was arrested in a parking lot. Most of the items brought there were at the urging of the decoy and all the drug charges were subsequently dropped.
Michael is a 48-year-old Asian man who regularly dates age-appropriate women and has never been accused of doing anything sexually inappropriate. He has lived in Nevada County for over 15 years and has been residing with his parents, two sisters and a 10-year-old boy (under the guardianship of his mother and father) for whom he is a mentor and big brother.
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During the time of his arrest the 10-year-old has been having a difficult time adjusting to Michael not being there. While in custody he was not allowed to make a call for over three days and his car was towed, which after one day cost $465 in charges to redeem. It took over a week before he was allowed to meet with the public defender, one day before his arraignment and only because he was bailed out. This bail was originally $10,000 then raised to $60,000 and then reduced again after the prosecutor dropped the misdemeanor drug charges.
In September, Michael will go to court to confront a white prosecutor, in front of a white judge. They will attempt to convict Michael in front of “a jury of his peers” who may already have been prejudiced by a major news article furnished by the sheriff’s department, containing untruths or half-truths.
If Michael is convicted (and the District Attorney’s Office thinks they have a strong case) Michael will be unemployable, homeless (the rules of guardianship do not allow a felon living in the same house), and have the label of a sexual predator for the rest of his life. And the DA’s office will boast another win.
Is this what justice should look like? Is justice fair?
Mike Akiyoshi lives in Grass Valley.
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