IMAGE: Brian Kolodziej

A defense attorney in Isabella County is appalled after news broke of a prosecutor having a relationship with a sexual assault victim in a case he defended.

"Hardly fair, hardly proper," said attorney Joe Barberi.

Barberi represents Ian Elliot, a former Central Michigan University student who is now sitting in prison.

Elliot took a plea deal in a sexual assault case in August and must serve at least a year before he's eligible for parole.

News broke Tuesday that the assistant attorney general prosecuting his case was having a relationship with one of his accusers.

Assistant Attorney General Brian Kolodziej resigned last week.

"If he was just having a sexual relationship with one of the accusers, that would be so wrong,” Barberi said. “That in itself would be outrageous. That wasn't really what was the worst part of it. It was that relationship had turned sexual was permeating how he was treating witnesses."

Attorney general Dana Nessel said a criminal investigation has been launched.

"To say that I am horrified, to say that I'm disgusted, it's really an understatement," Nessel said. “I have never before in my life ever heard of a situation like this. I have never heard of a prosecutor involved with a victim in a case, much less a victim of a sexual assault case."

Nessel said Michigan State Police is looking into if this relationship affected the due process of the case.

Barberi believes it clearly did.

"If I file motions to withdraw the plea and vacate it, which I can do, I have up to six months to do that,” he said. “How do I have another fair trial with these witnesses? I'll never get it."

Nessel has agreed to meet with Barberi next Wednesday.

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