CORUNNA — A Vestaburg man charged with sexually trafficking a girl was set to plead guilty to a reduced child abuse charge Wednesday in 35th Circuit Court, but Judge Matthew Stewart refused to accept the man’s plea, and the case is, at least for now, slated for trial starting Tuesday.
Jeffrey Funsch, 60, was charged in May with felony human trafficking and accosting a child for immoral purposes for allegedly offering the girl for money to another man, who allegedly paid to have sex with the girl.
The Argus-Press does not typically identify victims of sexual assault.
As part of a proposed plea agreement, the Shiawassee County Prosecutor’s Office agreed to dismiss the felony charges and allow Funsch to instead plead guilty to second-degree child abuse.
Wednesday, Funsch testified that he took the then-14-year-old girl to the home of Eric Boylan, 45, of Woodhull Township. Funsch said he was there to look at a recreational vehicle that was for sale, and went out to his truck, smoked a cigarette and came back inside the pole barn where the RV was parked.
He claimed that he had no idea the girl had sex with Boylan, and denied he arranged the sexual encounter when questioned by Stewart.
“Was that an arrangement that you made, for (Boylan) to have sex with (the girl),” Stewart asked. “Did you know that when she went in that trailer with him that he was going to have sex with her? Did you profit from her going into that trailer to have sex with him? Did you think that when he went in that trailer he would have sex with her?”
“No, I was hoping she would just talk to (Boylan) like she said,” Funsch answered, but acknowledged there was “a possibility” the girl had sex with Boylan.
Stewart wouldn’t accept Funsch’s plea, since the defendant denied any knowledge of arranging the alleged encounter or accepting payment from Boylan for sex with the girl.
“We don’t have a plea. I can’t accept a plea from you unless it’s understanding and accurate,” Stewart said. “I don’t have any of these elements met here this afternoon.”
Stewart then scheduled Funsch’s jury trial for 8:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Following Wednesday’s hearing, Shiawassee County Prosecutor Scott Koerner indicated the felony charges would be dismissed and additional charges would be filed. He did not specify what those charges would be.
Additionally, as part of a proposed plea agreement, Funsch would be required to “provide truthful testimony” against Boylan.
Boylan is charged with 14 felony counts — five counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct (personal injury), human trafficking, child sexually abusive commercial activity, using a computer to commit a crime, unlawful imprisonment, two counts of third-degree CSC (victim 13-15), accosting a minor for immoral purposes and two counts of fourth-degree CSC (victim 13-16).
If convicted of some or all of those charges, Boylan faces up to life in prison.
Former 66th District Court Magistrate Dan Nees set bond for Funsch at $250,000, and $350,000 for Boylan, at their respective arraignments in May, and both men have been incarcerated since their respective arrests.