A former Lansing dentist convicted of sexually assaulting a child patient more than a decade ago will go to prison for at least 15 years. Dr. Wendell Racette was sentenced Wednesday in Igham County Court. He'll be 80-years-old before he's eligible for parole.
Racette was found guilty in late August of five counts of criminal sexual conduct in the first degree and 10 counts of CSC in the second degree. It was the second time he was tried on the charges. The first trial ended in a hung jury.
During sentencing, Racette's now 22-year-old victim expressed his pain through poetry.
"In vain I search for peace of mind, innocence stolen before my time," he told the court of a childhood shattered. "The horrors of my life have blinded me from my plight, yet still I fight with all my might."
Prosecutors say Racette sexually assaulted the victim at his dental office when he was just five-years-old. The assaults continued for years, from 1996-2000.
"He had supressed this for so long and then to have the courage, and we see this in a number of victims of child sexual abuse, you know when they come forward it is so mentally traumatic for them and and they relive the nightmare of what occured to them," Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings said of the victim.
Dunnings calls Racette a sadist, a man in a position of trust who preyed on multiple children, drugging then assaulting them.
"It's hard to listen to these kids talk about what happened when they were young," Dunnings added.
In court, Racette had nothing to say about the crimes.
"I'm fine," he said, answering the judge, who asked if Racette wished to make a statement.
Racette's attorney also declined comment.
Prosecutors were pushing for a minimum 25 year sentence for each of the five first-degree counts of CSC. That's the penalty Racette would face if the crimes were committed today. Sentencing guidelines have changed.
"They (the guidelines) max out at five convictions, he has 15 convictions, ten that aren't even scored," Assistant Prosecutor Debra Rousseau said in court. "He shouldn't get freebies your honor."
The judge stuck with the guidelines, ordering a 15-year minimum.
Regardless of the years, Dunnings says the sentence is a chance for the victim to heal.
"He's been waiting for this moment almost all his life," Dunnings said.
Prosecutors say under Michigan law property used to commit crimes can be seized. They are filing a lawsuit to take control of Racette's dental office. If the suit is successful, the office would go to the law enforcement agencies that investigated this case.