JACKSON, MI – A 44-year-old father of 14 is going to prison for at least six years for allowing some of his children to visit the home of a known sex offender.
Jackson County Circuit Judge Thomas Wilson sentenced Randy Stevens on Thursday, Jan. 2, to six to 10 years in prison for second-degree child abuse.
He could see a longer sentence if convicted on new, separate charges he sexually abused a girl, now 15. He was charged in December with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, a felony punishable by up to life in prison, and the case is pending in district court.
Stevens pleaded guilty to the child abuse offense in November. He said he only admitted to letting his children visit Geoffrey Friant, now serving 30 to 80 years in prison for first-degree criminal sexual conduct, but the allegations were more wide-spread.
He was accused of involving the kids in criminal activity, coaching his sons on what to tell questioning authorities, and conceded to the judge on Thursday that he allowed his children to steal items. His wife, Bobbi Jo Stevens, 37, told detectives she was aware her children participated in arson and Randy Stevens had them to steal a generator and car stereos, according to a court record related to the eight children the couple had in their care before child protection workers had them removed. Randy Stevens, biological father to six of them, has surrendered his parental rights. Eight of his children are adults.
“This is far more than ‘I made a bad decision’ or ‘I made a bad choice,’” Assistant Prosecutor Jake Dickerson said. “It looks like he was regularly engaged in his own little criminal enterprise.”
Stevens knew Friant was a registered sex offender, and despite this, he not only permitted his children to see Friant, he bought a vehicle for Friant to transport them around town, Wilson said.
Wilson said this makes Stevens look like a “sick individual.”
“I bought a vehicle. It wasn’t bought for him,” responded Stevens, who denies many allegations.
He accused his 14-year-old stepson of lying about Friant and said the warrants obtained in his case were “tainted.”
Friant, a sex offender since the 1970s, was not convicted of sexually abusing any of Stevens’ children, but he has been called a “serial predator” with more alleged victims than his criminal record reflects.
Stevens conceded some wrongdoing, but cast blame on his wife. He said he made himself “look bad to take some of the heat off her.” She pleaded guilty to in July to fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a misdemeanor, and agreed to testify against her husband. The children often were with their mother because Randy Stevens, who uses an oxygen tank, has frequently been in the hospital, Randy Stevens said.
Wilson, agreeing with Dickerson, ruled Randy Stevens was the leader. It is clear he was running the show, Dickerson said.
“I did fail as a parent, yes I did, and I do not say that lightly, sir,” Randy Stevens told Wilson.
His lawyer, Phillip Berkemeier, said Stevens was not making good decisions at the time of his crime because of his drinking and drug abuse.
His wife told a detective he used a “couple $100 worth of cocaine” every day and sold the drug to support his habit.
Stevens said he is “one the road to recovery.”
“My client has not had an easy or pretty life and he is not proud of much of what happened in his past,” Berkemeier said.
A charge of arson, filed against Stevens in January 2013, has been dismissed. Randy Stevens said he was merely at the scene of a September 2011 fire at 627 Fairyland Ave. Wilson ordered him to pay more than $3,300 in restitution related to the fire because the judge said he was there when it began.
Stevens was arraigned on the new charges on Dec. 20. Court records list the offense date as Oct. 18, 2012. Berkemeier said Stevens denies the charges.