A candidate seeking a spot on Merritt City Council is hoping that voters will look past his status as a registered sex offender, maintaining his innocence of the crime and asking Merrittonians for their support. Michael Behrens is one of 18 candidates looking to fill a spot at the council table on October 15.
Behrens, 51, was convicted in 2009 of one count of invitation to sexual touching of a person under 14, when he was and sentenced to 15 months in prison, which was followed by an 18 month probationary period. Behrens was also ordered by authorities to register as a sex offender for a period of 20 years, ending in 2029, and prohibited from possesing a firearm for 10 years.
“I was in the middle of a custody battle for my son, and his mother decided to pull that card,” said Behrens of the conviction.
“It was a really crappy part of my life, but it is what it is, I got charged and convicted, and I did time for it. I just haven’t been able to expunge my record, and it’s just really unfortunate.”
Behrens told the Herald that he was framed, set up by an ex-girlfriend looking to prevent him from seeing his children. He maintains that he is innocent, a victim of a set-up and a court system that he believes is “broken.”
“The court system doesn’t always work. When I was in jail, I found that our system is quite flawed. It was a revolving door for people with social issues and mental health disorders. I ended up there because the judge didn’t know whether to believe me or the young girl,” added Behrens.
While incarcerated, Behrens said he maintained employment within the prison, and spent a majority of his free time with the facility’s chaplain. He became Bible Study coordinator, and said he maintains a strong faith following his release in 2010. Behrens said he is running for council despite the charges, and hopes voters can see that he is a “progressive” candidate.
Behrens maintains his innocence, and worked for a time to clear his name through an appeal process. He said his legal aid application was denied, and claims that he lacked sufficient funds to appeal his conviction. Behrens has also claimed through Castanet that he stopped fighting to clear his name because he didn’t want to make it easy for other sex offenders who were “actually guilty” to clear theirs.
“I wasn’t affording an appeal. I was told by the judge I wouldn’t be able to get the funding for it, even though I couldn’t afford it,” said Behrens.
“I never got my appeal. I couldn’t pay for a lawyer, and I couldn’t get my transcripts for $2000. You only have a certain amount of time to appeal something, and when that time came up I still didn’t have the money to appeal.”
Behrens said he is hopeful that Merrittonians will give him a chance at the polls on October 15.