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Milford man charged in 2013 rape on WMU campus

A Milford man has been charged with a decade-old rape.

The Michigan Attorney General’s Office says that 29-year-old Caleb James Watson of Milford was arrested by the Michigan State Police Fugitive team in Livingston County on April 25 and then arraigned last week by Judge Hemmingway in the 8th District Court in Kalamazoo for the rape of a female Western Michigan University freshman in the fall of 2013.

Watson is charged with 4 counts of 1st degree Criminal Sexual Conduct and 1 count of Assault with Intent to Commit Penetration.  

According to a press release, the assault occurred in the victim’s dorm room. Watson, then age 20, was an acquaintance of the victim, 18, because they lived in the same dorm. It is alleged Watson used force or coercion to frighten and overpower the victim and then committed numerous forced penetrations of her body with his penis. The sexual assault resulted in both physical injury and long-term mental anguish to the victim. 

“The work of our department, in collaboration with the SAKI units in Kalamazoo and elsewhere, continues to show sexual assault survivors that justice is still a viable pursuit, even ten years on,” said Attorney General Dana Nessel. “Our hope and goal is that this pursuit leads to aid the healing process for victims. Investigations, charges, convictions; these are important elements of a broader process of securing justice and helping victims to recover.” 

These charges followed a lengthy investigation by the Kalamazoo County Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) which is a collaborative project of the Michigan Attorney General’s Office, the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor’s Office and the YWCA of Kalamazoo. 

The Kalamazoo SAKI Team is in the process of investigating approximately 225 cold-case sexual assaults that occurred in Kalamazoo County between 1976 and 2015. To date, the Kalamazoo SAKI Team has obtained 14 convictions and has 11 other cases which have been bound over for trial in Kalamazoo County. 

“This case exemplifies the long-term trauma that can stay with the victims of sexual assault,” said Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting. “Victims often continue to deal with the impact of sexual assault for years, and for some victims it becomes a life-long struggle. Helping those victims obtain a sense of justice, even years after their assault happened can be very important for their recovery. That is just one of the many reasons I am proud to be working with the Attorney General and our SAKI team on these difficult cases.” 

If convicted, Watson faces a maximum punishment of life in prison. Watson’s bond was set at $250,000 cash or surety. If he is able to post bond, he will be supervised by the Office of Community Corrections and will wear a GPS tether. Watson’s next court date will be a probable cause conference on May 10, 2023.    

Anyone with information about Caleb Watson or about this incident is asked to contact SAKI Investigator Richard Johnson at 269-569-0515 or by email.

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