The victim’s advocate assigned to help now-deceased teenage rape victim Mujey Dumbuya had for several months dated the man accused of the assault - and she stayed in contact with the man while working with the teen.
The relationship was acknowledged by the Kent County Prosecutor’s Office during a discussion in court in late June. On Wednesday, Newschannel 3 obtained transcripts of that discussion, revealing the romantic relationship between the victim's advocate, Natasha Broy, and the man accused of raping Dumbuya - Quinn James.
Broy, as the victim's advocate, was assigned to guide the teenager through the legal and often emotional process of preparing to testify at the rape trial against James.
Kent County Prosecutor Chris Becker told Newschannel 3 that the victim's advocate followed protocol in the face of a conflict of interest and in November brought the issue to a superior at the prosecutor's office. Becker also said Broy likely saw James' name in court papers prior to the pre-trial conference hearing in November, which is when, Becker said, the victim's advocate reported the conflict of interest and was removed from the case.
Defense attorney Jonathan Schildgen claimed that James and Broy broke up in June or July of 2017, about the same time that Dumbuya, who was then 15, was raped. Even though James and Broy ended their relationship, James' defense attorney claims, the victim's advocate continued to communicate with James on the phone and in person up until November when the pre-trial conference was held.
The relationship and the identity of the victim's advocate are key points in the defense attorney's efforts to have the Kent County Prosecutor's Office thrown off the murder case; Schildgen argues that the relationship creates a conflict of interest for the office.
Becker said the victim’s advocate made no ethical violations, and she has been removed from any cases related to James. She is still employed with the prosecutor’s office.
Also in the transcript, Schildgen explains that he first learned about the relationship when Dumbuya came into the courtroom with Broy. Their entry prompted James to ask why his accuser was with his ex-girlfriend.
Dumbuya was set to testify against James in the rape case when she was kidnapped and killed on her way to East Kentwood High School in January. Her body was dumped in Kalamazoo, and found a few days later.
A former employee of the Kentwood School District, James is now charged with murder in Dumbuya’s death. Another former school district employee, James’ fiancé, 27-year-old Tiara Burnett also is behind bars. Arraigned Tuesday in Kent County District Court, Burnett is charged with witness intimidation in the murder case against James.
Correction: A previous version of the story stated the transcript of the discussion came from the judges chambers. The story has been changed to reflect that it was said during open court.