LANSING, Mich. - A Lansing-area man will spend likely spend the rest of his life in prison for sexually assaulting a young girl.
Ingham County Circuit Court Judge Rosemarie Aquilina sentenced Anthony Bonner, 51, to 47 ½ to 100 years in prison on a first-degree criminal sexual conduct charge followed by an additional 25 to 50 years in prison on a charge of assault with intent to commit sexual penetration.
She also sentenced him to 25 to 50 years in prison for a second-degree sexual criminal sexual conduct charge, but that time will be served concurrently with his sentence on the first degree charge.
Bonner will begin serving his time after he spends 93 days in jail for contempt of court following two outbursts as the victim's family talked about the impact of the crime. He has received a credit for 337 days served.
A jury found Bonner guilty of three counts – first- and second-degree criminal sexual conduct and assault with intent to commit sexual penetration.
The charges stem from an incident in May of 2017 when Bonner assaulted a nine-year-old girl. He was helping take care of the girl at the time.
The girl reached out for help, telling her mother during a phone call that "Uncle Anthony" had "tried to be nasty" with her and threatened to hurt her if she told anyone. She later said Bonner had been inappropriate before, touching her breasts — she called them "chi-chis" in court — while her parents slept in the other room.
Bonner has a criminal record in Michigan dating back to 1986 that includes convictions for arson, drug charges and assault with a dangerous weapon. He also has had at least four protective orders filed against him, all of which cite violence and death threats.
Assistant Prosecutor Christina Johnson called Bonner an "aggressive, dangerous predator" and said he built trust with the victim's family then used it to prey on the girl.
During a statement before the court, the victim's mother read a letter from her now 10-year-old daughter to Bonner directly, saying she loved him like an uncle and that the family did love and trust him.
He responded to her calling him a horrible person with a brief, insulting outburst.
The victim's great aunt called the girl the family's "little warrior princess" and said she hopes Bonner is never released.
Bonner had a second outburst as she spoke using vulgarity as he called her a liar.
Before giving the sentence, Aquilina said she wasn't even sure where to begin. She criticized Bonner for seemingly blaming the child and using a family's need for his own gain.
Bonner was calm before the judge despite the earlier outbursts.
"I would just like to say I'm not guilty, and that's it," he said.
He also said he felt he was never going to get a fair trial.
Aquilina contested that, saying she let him speak while other judges would "have put you away already."
She said she couldn't see herself fashioning a sentencing where Bonner could ever be released, as she believes he would simply do the same thing again. She added the heinous nature of the crime sealed Bonner's fate.
"Even if (the 25 years) were not mandatory, I would still fashion such a sentence," Aquilina told Bonner. "You are simply someone who keeps breaking the law and based on that you are not someone who should be released because you are a danger to all of us at large, but especially the most vulnerable."
Aquilina also ordered Bonner attend sexual offender and substance use classes while in prison and issued a no contact order between Bonner and the victim or any of her family members.
And she spoke directly and encouragingly to the victim's family.
"I want you to give your daughter a hug for me." Aquilina told the girl's mother. "I want you to tell her how brave she is."
Contact reporter Megan Banta (517) 377-1261 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @MeganBanta_1.
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