Rankin trial ends with split verdict
Editor’s note: Neither the victim nor her husband, will be identified in this report. Readers are also advised that there is explicit sexual testimony included.
CRYSTAL FALLS—On Aug. 22, 2016, something happened between Joseph Rankin Jr. and a female client at Full Circle Fitness and Massage in Iron River. No one else was in the facility at the time, and so what exactly transpired that morning was and will always be known by only two people.
And so when the female, in her 40s, accused the 26-year old Rankin of sexually assaulting her while giving her a massage without a license that day, the whole case became a classic and literal version of “he said, she said.”
On Dec. 6, after nearly two days of testimony and 2½ hours of deliberation, the seven men and five women that comprised the jury said they believed the woman, at least in part, as they found Rankin guilty of fourth degree criminal sexual conduct and assault and battery. Rankin was found not guilty of unauthorized practice of a health profession (a four-year felony) and second degree criminal sexual conduct, which carried a maximum sentence of 15 years.
Rankin, who remains free on bond, will be sentenced Jan. 22. Fourth degree criminal sexual conduct is a high court misdemeanor punishable by up to two years in prison or jail, while assault and battery is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 93 days. It is expected that Rankin will score jail time. The CSC charge is also an offense under the Sex Offender Registration Act.
No audible reaction could be heard after the jury foreman read the first verdicts, the findings of not guilty, around 6:30 p.m. But when the foreman read the guilty verdict on the fourth degree CSC charge, the victim and some of her supporters broke into tears. Rankin, however, showed no immediate visual reaction as he stood listening to the verdicts.