Carmen Lowry, Executive Director at Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, speaks to the Senate Judiciary Committee about SB 12, a crime bill, at the Capitol on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Carmen Lowry, Executive Director at Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, speaks to the Senate Judiciary Committee about SB 12, a crime bill, at the Capitol on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Bill would ‘redefine’ sex crime in Alaska, broaden definition of sexual assault

‘Schneider Loophole’ would close with bill’s passage.

The Senate Judiciary Committee has completed its work on a bill that would close the “Schneider Loophole.” Senate Bill 12 now moves to Senate Finance Committee.

“We really have caught all the loopholes,” Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, the bill’s sponsor said. “This bill redefines a sex crime.”

“Schneider Loophole,” which refers to the Justin Schneider case in Anchorage. Schneider strangled a woman until she passed out and then he ejaculated on her. He was later caught by authorities, but pleaded guilty to a single felony charge and served no additional jail time. His crime fell outside the criminal code’s definition of sexual assault and he walked out of court with no jail time. It ignited outrage throughout the state, prompting the presiding judge in the case to lose re-election and the creation of the grassroots political advocacy group “No More Free Passes.”

[Legislators aim to get crime legislation right]

SB 12 would make the following changes:

• Pre-trial time served on an ankle bracelet would not take time off a post-conviction sentence.

• If strangulation is part of the sex crime, that person can be charged with sexual assault in the first degree.

• Requires the prosecuting attorney to make “a reasonable effort” to confer with the victim or their legal guardian and see if the victim is in agreement about any plea deals being proposed.

• “Knowingly causing the victim to come into contact with semen” would be considered sexual contact.

The Judiciary Committee also took public comments from about a dozen Alaskans.

Vicki Jo Kennedy of Kodiak said, “I’m proud that you guys have put this bill forward.” She was particularly grateful that the senators included a strangulation aggravating factor, and noted it is common in sexual assaults.

Elizabeth Williams of the “No More Free Passes” organization spoke out, too.

“I want to speak in favor of the requirement the prosecuting attorney to talk to the victim and see where they stand on the plea deal. This puts the burden on the prosecutor,” she said. “Right now, the burden is on the victim to reach out about the plea deal.”

She added, “Legislation shapes culture. It’s a culture shift.”

Scott Carson of Juneau said he’s worked in law enforcement for more than 20 years.

“I believe it’s a good bill,” Carson said. “I believe sex crimes are some of the most damaging. Not only for the victims; it can hurt the family.”


Contact reporter Kevin Baird at 523-2258 or kbaird@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @alaska_kev.


Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, listen to telephonic public testimony on SB 12 crime bill during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Shelley Hughes, R-Palmer, left, and Sen. Lora Reinbold, R-Eagle River, listen to telephonic public testimony on SB 12 crime bill during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, introduces an amendment to SB 12, a crime bill, during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting at the Capitol on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, introduces an amendment to SB 12, a crime bill, during a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting at the Capitol on Monday, March 4, 2019. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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