A Kalamazoo judge has sentenced former union lobbyist Jonathan Byrd to 90 days in the county jail and 12 months probation for one count of Aggravated Assault stemming from an incident in Kalamazoo County in April 2022.
After charges were filed against him, Byrd resigned from his position as director of external affairs for the Michigan Laborers District Council of the Laborers’ International Union of North America and as president of the South-Central Michigan Labor Council of the Michigan AFL-CIO.
Byrd accepted a plea agreement last December that reduced a Fourth-Degree Criminal Sexual Conduct charge filed against him to Aggravated Assault.
Byrd attended a political event hosted by state Sen. Sean McCann, D-Kalamazoo, during which he forced a woman’s hand upon his genitalia and attempted to kiss her.
The woman has since been identified as former Democratic campaign operative Mariah Bryant (formerly Mariah Phelps), who read prepared remarks on Monday.
“What did I do that made me deserve this?” she asked.
According to a news release from the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel, “Byrd held a position of much influence in the Capitol and around the state in the realm of government and politics that provided a significant power imbalance between him and the victim.”
Byrd’s sentence also includes court costs and fees, mandatory drug and alcohol assessment, sex-offender counseling, prohibition from possessing firearms, and prohibited contact with the victim. Successful completion of the assessments and counseling will result in suspension of the final 50 days of Byrd’s incarceration.
“Today’s sentence is due to the bravery of the victim, who spoke out against an influential figure, and whose courage hopefully put an end to one man’s predation of young women in politics,” Nessel said in a statement. “I am grateful to the prosecutors in my office, who will continue to seek justice for assault survivors, and bring accountability to offenders regardless of their positions of relative power.”
Monday’s sentencing was handed down by Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Paul J. Bridenstine, who called Byrd’s behavior “absolutely inexcusable,” according to mLive.
“In the state of Michigan, we will hold sexual predators accountable no matter how well-connected they are and irrespective of whatever prominence they enjoy in the dealings of our government,” Nessel said in a statement.