Man called a ‘danger to society' enters plea to sexual assault in Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A man called 'a danger to society’ based on convictions dating back more than four decades pleaded guilty Monday, June 12 to sexually assaulting a sleeping homeless woman outside a downtown Grand Rapids building.

Robert Lee Bateman, 63, was charged with criminal sexual conduct with injury for the Oct. 8 assault on South Division Avenue south of Fulton Street. He was arrested three days later.

Bateman on Monday pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct and unarmed robbery. He faces up to life in prison when he returns for sentencing July 18 in Kent County Circuit Court.

“This was a violent sex attack on a sleeping victim and he was just released from prison,’’ investigators wrote in court records. “Robert Bateman is a danger to society with regards to his sexually assaultive behavior.’’

Bateman has spent much of his life in and out of prison for offenses ranging from second-degree murder to home invasion. He was released from prison in May, 2016 after serving a maximum term for interfering with an electronic communications device in Muskegon County. He was staying at Mel Trotter Ministries on Commerce Avenue SW when the October assault occurred, court records show.

The 44-year-old victim reported she awoke to find Bateman sexually assaulting her, Grand Rapids Police Sgt. Terry Dixon said. “She fights him off and he takes her backpack and goes through it as he is walking away.’’

Bateman is on Michigan’s Sex Offender Registry for several convictions dating back to 1983. Bateman served 2½ to 10 years on a 1971 conviction for indecent liberties with a child.

Bateman has served time in prison for a dozen felony convictions in Kent, Muskegon and Wayne counties. His record includes a 1981 murder conviction in Wayne County.

“His criminal history consists of one violent felony conviction after another since 1971,’’ a pretrial investigator wrote. “He is clearly a danger to the community.’’

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