PAW PAW, Mich. - A former Covert Township police officer accused of sexually assaulting a woman he met during a traffic stop will spend almost a year in jail.
Erich Fritz was sentenced Monday to one year in jail, with credit for one day served, and five years probation in Van Buren County court. Fritz pleaded no contest to one count of Unlawful Imprisonment after originally being charged with Sexual Assault and Kidnapping.
The incident happened July 9, 2016 when Fritz had been on the Covert Township Police force for two months. Fritz pulled over a man and arrested him for drunk driving. The passenger was a woman, also drunk, and police say Fritz took her to a hotel where he sexually assaulted her.
Monday during sentencing, Van Buren County Circuit Judge Kathleen Brickley told Fritz, "You preyed upon and exploited a damaged woman, a woman who was entirely helpless due to excessive intoxication."
“Even more disturbing to this court, is the fact that you used your badge and the authority and power it grants you as a means to implement your criminality.”
Fritz had contended in court that the sex with the victim was consensual. Prosecutors argued he took advantage of his position.
The victim stood with her daughter and spoke Monday saying her last year has been "hell."
“[Fritz] knew I was highly intoxicated yet he used that as a selfish opportunity," she said.
"My life has been forever changed. Every aspect of my life has been affected. My children who struggled, my friends, family and loved ones who have watched me through a year of hell.”
Though the victim said she's grateful Fritz is off the police force, one year in jail is not long enough.
“I feel you did not get the full punishment that you deserved, but your friends, family, the public and most importantly you will always know what you did," she said to Fritz.
"You will never be a police officer again, and for that I’m grateful.”