TOWN OF LEWISTON — There were no screaming fans and no flash-bulb popping paparazzi at the Lewiston Town Court Wednesday afternoon.
Dressed more like an Ivy League college student, in khakis, a buttoned down shirt, sweater vest and boats shoes, than a Detroit rapper, Sean Michael Anderson, walked in with just his lawyers, his co-defendant and what appeared to be a couple of family members.
The MTV VMA 2011 nominated best new rap artist, better known as “Big Sean”, was prepared to take a deal with Niagara County prosecutors in a sexual abuse case stemming from an incident after an Artpark State Park concert in August.
Anderson. 23, and a friend, Willie Hansbro, had each been charged with forcible touching, second-degree unlawful imprisonment and third-degree sex abuse after a 17-year-old girl told police she was she was sexually assaulted during a concert where Anderson was performing with rapper Wiz Khalifa.
Anderson and Hansbro each pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree unlawful imprisonment.
“This was a fair resolution to the victim which allowed us to get a criminal conviction and an acceptance of responsibility for what occurred that night,” Deputy District Attorney Holly Sloma said. “This will allow the victim to move forward, which is what she wants to do.”
Sloma and Assistant DA Elizabeth Donatello both said the victim in the case had agreed to the plea deal.
The only thing that Anderson and Hansbro said during the brief court proceeding was, “Guilty.” when Lewiston Town Justice Hugh Gee asked them how they pleaded to the unlawful imprisonment charge. Gee waived a pre-sentence investigation and fined the pair $750 each for their pleas.
Both Anderson and Hansbro immediately paid the fines.
“I hope you understand your attorneys did a good job on your behalf,” Gee told the rapper and his friend. “And that you’ll be more careful about what you do in the future.”
Anderson had no comment for a Gazette reporter after the plea.
In a written statement, his New York City based attorney, Scott Leemon, said, “After further investigation, the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office decided not to pursue any of the sexual misconduct allegations against Mr. Anderson.”
“As a result, in order to set this entire ordeal behind him, Mr. Anderson agree to plead guilty to a misdemeanor charge,” the statement said. “Mr. Anderson regrets any misunderstanding that occurred that day, but reiterates he did not engage in any type of sexual misconduct.”
Prosecutors would not disclosed what happened to the victim other than to say that she was “picked out of the (concert) crowd by (Anderson’s) security people and taken back stage.”
Sloma said the allegations in the criminal complaint filed by New York State Park Police “were sexual in nature and the unlawful imprisonment.”
“(The victim) did not seek out (Anderson and Hansbro’s) attention,” Donatello said.
Both prosecutors commended to the work of Park Police officers and investigators.
“This was a sexual assault investigation,” Sloma said. “And it would have continued that way if we had not resolved the matter to the satisfaction of the victim.”