In an emotional scene Monday morning, Juneau resident Ty Alexander C. Grussendorf pleaded guilty to two charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor for sexual relationships with underage girls.
Grussendorf, 24, admitted in court to engaging in sexual acts with two girls who were 12 and 13 in 2013 when he was 18. One of the victims was present telephonically at Monday’s hearing, and members of Grussendorf’s family were present in person. Grussendorf was taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center immediately after the hearing and shared tearful goodbyes with family members in the courtroom.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip M. Pallenberg explained in court that Grussendorf likely will receive a sentence between 5-15 years in prison for each charge. Pallenberg said this charge carries a sentence of 5-99 years, but because Grussendorf has never been convicted of a felony, the sentence will likely fall in that 5-15 range per charge. Pallenberg said “this particular case is among the most serious in the definition of the offense,” and said his sentence could go above that range if he chooses.
Sentencing is set for 9 a.m. Friday, Jan. 11. Victims will have a chance to make a statement at the sentencing hearing, and because they were minors at the time of the offenses, their parents will also be allowed to speak. Grussendorf will have an opportunity to make a statement. The attorneys in the case — Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige and defense attorney John Cashion — estimated that hearing will last two or three hours.
The case gained attention in 2016 when Grussendorf’s father Tim, a legislative staffer, was the focus of an investigation for potentially unethical attempts to lobby for amendments to sex crime provisions in Senate Bill 91, according to an October 2016 report by KTUU.
While an employee of Sen. Lyman Hoffman, D-Bethel, and the Senate Finance Committee, Tim Grussendorf met with multiple legislators in 2016, according to the KTUU report. He unsuccessfully lobbied to change the age of offenders from 16 or older to 19 or older, with the victim age being lowered to younger than 12 instead of 13, according to the report.
The plea agreement dismisses 11 charges, according to electronic court records, including other charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one charge of first-degree attempted sexual abuse of a minor and five charges of possessing child pornography. The two counts to which Grussendorf pleaded guilty are consolidated charges, which means he is admitting to conduct in all of the second-degree sexual abuse of a minor charges but will only be sentenced for two of them, Paige explained earlier this month.
Pallenberg said Grussendorf must register as a sex offender, and because there are multiple counts in this case, Grussendorf will be a registered offender for the rest of his life. Grussendorf will face at least 10 years of probation after he’s released from prison, Pallenberg said.
Paige explained in court that according to the plea agreement, Grussendorf had at least six instances of sexual contact with one victim in January and February 2013 when the victim was 12 years old and Grussendorf was 18. Paige said that in pleading guilty, Grussendorf is also admitting that he had sex with a 13-year-old victim later in 2013.
Grussendorf was indicted in 2015, being charged with six counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of attempted sexual abuse of a minor, according to Empire reports. In July 2016, Pallenberg granted a motion to dismiss the indictment because of inadmissable evidence that was given to the grand jury.
A Juneau grand jury re-indicted Grussendorf in February 2017 on the same charges and added second-degree sexual abuse in reference to the second victim, five charges of child pornography possession and 25 charges of indecent viewing of photography, according to an Empire report at the time. Most of those charges have been dismissed over the past year and a half, Paige said in a September interview.
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.