Grand Jury Won't Pursue Rape Charges Against Sitting Muni Court Judge Michael Nelson

click to enlarge Michael Nelson - @MNelsonNAACP @MNelsonNAACP
Michael Nelson
Days before the 2017 general election, reports emerged of allegations that Michael Nelson, the former NAACP Cleveland chapter president and candidate for a judicial seat on the Cleveland Municipal Court, had raped a 46-year-old woman, a former romantic partner. Her police report chronicled a violent October assault.

Despite the publication of the report, Nelson went on to win his race, unseating incumbent Michael Sliwinski. Sliwinski was adamant, in conversations with Scene, that neither he nor his team had unearthed the rape allegations, or pushed them to the media, as part of opposition research. Nelson began his term in January.

Last week, it was reported that a Cuyahoga County grand jury declined to pursue charges against Nelson. It's unclear when this "no-bill" was handed down, but the grand jury made its decision following an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, who took over the case from the Cleveland Police Department in December.

At that time, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor's Office handed the case off to its counterpart in Summit County. According to a spokesperson in the Cuyahoga County office, a special prosecutor was appointed in Summit County, but the case was presented in Cuyahoga.

Back in November, Nelson had called the rape accusations a "political hit." The police reports, however, describe the assault in detail (though key fragments were redacted). They also describe pressure on the accuser to remain silent applied by Nelson himself, his wife, and members of his church.

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Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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