What’s a little rape among friends? A group in Mount Clemens calling itself “Friends of Bill Hackel” is holding a welcome home fund-raiser on Friday, June 6, for the convicted felon and former Macomb County sheriff. The married Hackel, 61, was sheriff for 23 years before his conviction in 1999 of two counts of third-degree criminal sexual conduct in the assault of a 25-year-old acquaintance in her hotel room. The incident occurred in Mount Pleasant during a Michigan Sheriff’s Association conference. Hackel was recently released from prison on parole after serving the minimum of his 3- to 15-year sentence. The group believes Hackel is innocent, “otherwise we wouldn’t be doing this,” says Gerald Medley, a retired deputy sheriff and detective under Hackel and his friend since childhood.
As a testament to Hackel’s popularity in the county, his son, Mark Hackel, was elected sheriff in his absence.
The event at C.J. Barrymore’s in Clinton Township costs $25 a plate; up to 1,000 people are expected to attend. The fund-raiser is intended to raise money to pay Hackel’s legal bills, as he’s appealing his conviction to the state Supreme Court.
The Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence plans a protest. A spokeswoman for the group was not immediately available for comment, but a Macomb County organization for victims of domestic and sexual violence, Turning Point, issued a statement condemning the Hackel event.
“A celebration to welcome home a convicted rapist sends a chilling message to many sexual assault survivors in this community,” says Sue Coats, Turning Point executive director. “It also offends the hard-working investigators and prosecutors trying to assist them.” Protesters are expected to gather at the restaurant at 4:30 p.m.Send comments to [email protected]