Hither tether

Feb 4, 2009 at 12:00 am

He's tethered, home with his mother in Sterling Heights and barred from drinking and using the Internet, but Craig Hamilton Gonser is out of jail on bond.

Gonser, 41, was allegedly matched by DNA last year to a 1994 rape in Clinton Township for which another man, Kenneth Wyniemko, served nearly a decade in prison before being exonerated by genetic testing in 2003 (see "Beyond innocence," July 2, 2008). The victim identified Wyniemko as the man who broke into her home, blindfolded and handcuffed her, repeatedly raped her and stole $2,500.

After Gonser was arrested last spring in Cheboygan County on domestic violence charges, the Michigan State Police lab found a match between his DNA sample and the evidence in the 14-year-old unsolved rape, Macomb County Prosecutor Eric Smith says. According to court records, Gonser was on probation for two counts of fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct at the time of the 1994 rape. Smith has called him a "danger to society."

But Smith can't charge him in the 1994 attack because the statute of limitations for rape then was six years. Michigan law was changed in 2001 to remove the limit in some rape cases, in part because of advances made in the reliability and availability of DNA testing.

Smith, however, charged Gonser last year in a 2004 incident involving a minor. Gonser's attorney, James Simasko, says prosecutors allege that Gonser masturbated in the presence of his then-20-month-old daughter, which Gonser denies.

He is charged with indecent exposure, gross indecency and attempted gross indecency. Gonser was being held in the Macomb County Jail on $500,000 bond awaiting trial, which had been scheduled for Jan. 6, in front of Macomb County Circuit Judge David Viviano.

But the prosecutor disagreed with judge's jury instructions and the trial was postponed following an appeal.

Smith did not return a telephone call or e-mail from News Hits.

Meanwhile, Viviano ruled last week that Gonser could be released on a $50,000 cash bond with other conditions. Gonser left the Macomb County Jail on Jan. 29, is on a GPS tether, must reside with his mother and not leave the home, must avoid contact with his former wife and children, must not use a computer or anything connected to the Internet and must refrain from alcohol and drugs.

A pre-trial conference is scheduled for Feb. 26.

News Hits is edited by Curt Guyette. Contact him at 313-202-8004 or [email protected]