Wilder faces victim testimony
Man accused of East Lansing sexual assaults has day in court during preliminary exam Friday
Her voice wavered with emotion from the moment she began.
As Ingham County Assistant Prosecutor Debra Rousseau led the third alleged victim of Oswald Scott Wilder Jr. back through the night she was attacked and sexually assaulted, her testimony came forth in muffled sobs. She took many long pauses, wringing her hands in distress.
She told the court how he pushed her down, rendering her unconscious when she smacked her head on the cement. She told them how she came to with her feet in his hands, laying on the ground behind a shed in her own backyard. She told them how scared and violated she felt.
“I tried to fight and get away,” she said. “I was screaming. … I don’t understand how no one heard me.”
Three other victims, all either MSU students or alumni, also testified against Wilder Friday morning before 54B District Court Judge Andrea Larkin during his preliminary exam. None of the alleged victims could positively identify their attacker beyond his height, build and what he was wearing.
Wilder, 26, is accused of committing four sexual assaults this past spring in East Lansing near MSU’s campus. He will face trial Oct. 9 in Ingham County Circuit Court.
The Vernon, Mich., resident now faces one count of first degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of second degree criminal sexual conduct, one count of third degree criminal sexual conduct, two counts of assault with intent to commit sexual penetration, one count of gross indecency and three counts of unlawful imprisonment. He also is being charged as a habitual offender.
One of Wilder’s first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges was dismissed during his examination. Several charges were added to his case, including one third-degree criminal sexual conduct as well as three counts of unlawful imprisonment and a count of gross indecency.
The trip home
As she walked to meet a cab in the early morning hours of March 30 near the 1100 block of Grand River Avenue, Victim 1 said she felt as though someone was following her. She was startled when someone reached up her sequined dress from behind, causing her to fall to the ground.
“I was walking down the street when someone from behind me went under my dress,” Victim 1 said. “I shoved him off and he pushed me into a bus stop sign.”
Surveillance footage obtained by East Lansing police shows Wilder following Victim 2 on April 20 through a Meijer store located at 1350 W. Lake Lansing Road — less than two hours before she was assaulted walking home on Coolidge Road.
Noticing a man was following her, Victim 2 said she crossed the street to avoid him and was thrown into a nearby bush moments later. Her attacker threatened to kill her if she spoke. Seeing no one around to help her, she tried reasoning with the man.
“I tried calming him down,” she said. “I said, ‘I know you’re not a bad guy, you can take all the money you want.’ He just ignored what I said.”
Victim 3 also was on the way home from a social event only six days later when she was attacked at her back door on Charles Street and knocked unconscious.
“We always have to go to the back door, which is poorly lit,” Victim 3 said. “I punched in three digits (of the security code), and the next thing I know, I’m on the ground behind the shed.”
Victim 4 was returning from a walk near her home at Abbott Pointe Apartments when she was attacked. She said the man dragged her behind a nearby dumpster and assaulted her. When she called out to a man who walked by, she received no response.
“It’s really scary when a stranger attacks you and you can’t get away,” Victim 4 said. “I didn’t know what to do.”
East Lansing police Detective Dan Brown said Wilder’s DNA was obtained from the scene near the dumpster.
Another constant between the attacks remains that none of the victims could identify Wilder as their attacker. All four could only describe the person’s build and clothing, which Paul Toman, Wilder’s attorney, said could complicate the case when it goes to trial.
“The issue here that remains is identification,” Toman said. “None of them can identify Mr. Wilder in any way.”
Under the influence
Since his arrest on Aug. 23, Wilder has openly admitted his addictions to authorities.
In his handwritten confession, obtained by The State News through a Freedom of Information Act request, Wilder admitted to smoking crack cocaine before committing at least three of the four assaults he is accused of.
He said the drug increases his urge for sex to a nearly uncontrollable level. Wilder also said he has watched fantasy abuse movies, which fueled his desires.
On the night of April 26, Wilder said he saw Victim 3 walking near the Marriott at University Place, 300 M. A. C. Ave., while he was smoking crack cocaine and began following her.
“I was parked in (an) apartment complex and smoking rock,” Wilder said in his confession. “I seen her walk to her car or something and start back towards her house.”
After he ran from the scene of the first attack on March 30, Brown said Wilder returned to his car in the parking lot of the Quality Dairy on Grand River Avenue and smoked crack cocaine while watching police respond to Victim 1 on the scene across the street.
“I sat on the ground while I called the cops,” Victim 1 said. “I sat and cried for a minute.”
Throughout his confession, Wilder repeatedly detailed his remorse for his actions for each of the attacks.
“I live with it every day,” Wilder said. “It eats at me, because I have a conscience.”
If Wilder is convicted, he will face life in prison.