Man called a ‘danger to society' gets 14 to 40 years for sexual assault in Grand Rapids

Robert Bateman sentenced to at least 14 years in prison for sexual assault on a homeless woman

GRAND RAPIDS, MICH. - A man called 'a danger to society’ based on convictions dating back more than four decades was sentenced Tuesday to a minimum of 14 years in prison for sexually assaulting a sleeping homeless woman outside a downtown Grand Rapids building.

“I’m sorry I’m back in front of the court so soon,’’ 63-year-old Robert Lee Bateman told Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston.

Bateman last month pleaded guilty to first-degree criminal sexual conduct and unarmed robbery. He had been facing up to life in prison due to numerous prior convictions, which the judge rattled off in court.

Johnston sentenced Bateman to between 14 and 40 years for sexual assault and 7½ to 15 years for unarmed robbery. He’ll serve the sentences at the same time.

Bateman sexually assaulted a sleeping homeless woman on South Division Avenue south of Fulton Street and stole cash from her backpack.

“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.

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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