Dowagiac man found guilty of child sexually abusive activity

A Dowagiac man is facing two decades in prison after a Cass County jury found him guilty on a variety of offenses including sexual abuse, possession of illegal drugs and weapons.

Following nearly three full days of testimony and a slew of evidence presented by Assistant Prosecutor Kirk Metzger, a 12 person jury found James Heidenreich, 57, guilty of ten felonies: Child Sexually Abusive Activity, Eavesdropping, Possession of Child Sexually Abusive Material, Manufacture of Marijuana, Maintaining a Drug House and five Felony Firearm charges.

According to testimony revealed at trial, Heidenreich's girlfriend stumbled upon a DVR disk in his jacket pocket in July 2012.

The unnamed woman placed the disk in a DVD player and found clips of a 17-year-old girl, who was a close family friend, disrobing before taking a shower in Heidenreich's master bathroom. According to the prosecutor's office, Heidenreich is seen multiple times starting and stopping the video.

There was one additional clip on the disk of the defendant placing a camera in his girlfriend's daughter's room.

The Michigan State Police Paw Paw and Niles Posts were contacted. Together they served a warrant at Heidenreich's home along the 27500 block of Swamp St. where he was arrested. During their search, detectives found numerous firearms and a marijuana grow operation in a pole barn behind the house.

While on the stand, Heidenreich acknowledged the presence of firearms and marijuana plants, but denied responsibility for growing illegal narcotics. He also balked at the allegation he intended to setup a camera solely to film underage girls in the nude.

"Metzger effectively argued to the jury that Heidenreich violated a fundamental bond of trust. He knew full well what he was doing when he setup a camera in the bathroom and that filming the young girl could have no possible innocent or reasonable explanation. It could only have been filmed for his own sexual desires," Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz said.

Heidenreich is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 1, 2013 in front of Cass County Circuit Judge Michael Dodge. He could receive up to 22 years in state prison if sentenced to the full extent of the law.

"This defendant committed reprehensible acts against a child, his family and society, but he cannot hide from these crimes," Fitz concluded.

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