Ty Grussendorf, 24, left, appears in Juneau Superior Court with his attorney, John P. Cashion, to plead guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a minor on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Ty Grussendorf, 24, left, appears in Juneau Superior Court with his attorney, John P. Cashion, to plead guilty to two counts of sexual abuse of a minor on Monday, Oct. 22, 2018. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire File)

Grussendorf sentencing pushed back for defense expert testimony

Risk of re-offending is at question leading up to sentence

The sentencing for a Juneau man convicted of sexual abuse of a minor has been pushed back, as the defense is working on bringing in an expert witness.

Ty Alexander C. Grussendorf, 24, pleaded guilty in October to two charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor for sexual relationships with two underage girls. The case gained statewide attention when Grussendorf’s father unsuccessfully lobbied the Alaska Legislature in 2016 to change the age at which a person can be charged with an underage sex offense.

At the hearing where Grussendorf pleaded guilty, Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip M. Pallenberg said Grussendorf will likely be sentenced to five-15 years in prison for each charge.

Grussendorf’s defense attorney hopes that Dr. Mark McClung can convince Pallenberg to choose something on the lower end of that range. Grussendorf’s attorney John P. Cashion filed a motion Dec. 7 to push back Grussendorf’s sentencing from its original Jan. 11 date.

“Dr. McClung will offer testimony on his recent evaluation of Mr. Grussendorf for a re-offense risk assessment,” Cashion wrote in a notice to the court announcing that McClung would testify. “More specifically, Mr. McClung will offer testimony in support of his clinical opinion that Mr. Grussendorf is at low risk for a future hands-on sexual offense.”

Pallenberg granted the motion on Jan. 3 to push back the sentencing, according to court records. During a hearing Wednesday, Pallenberg rescheduled the sentencing for 9 a.m. March 29 in Courtroom C of the Dimond Courthouse in Juneau.

[Judge upholds ‘extraordinarily long’ sentence for sex offender]

Victims will have a chance to make a statement at the sentencing hearing, and because they were minors at the time of the offenses in 2013, their parents will also be allowed to speak. Grussendorf will have an opportunity to make a statement. During Grussendorf’s change of plea hearing in October, the attorneys in the case — Cashion and Assistant District Attorney Amy Paige — estimated that hearing will last two or three hours.

According to McClung’s resume — which Cashion filed to the court with his motion — McClung has a private practice in Seattle that specializes in general and forensic psychiatry. He has 28 years of experience with criminal evaluation and trial testimony, including state, Federal and even death penalty cases, his resume reads.

McClung has extensively researched sex offenders and has consulted for sex offender treatment programs. As part of the University of Washington’s Pyschiatry Residency Program lecture series, McClung presented about the assessment and treatment of paraphilias (having abnormal sexual desires), his resume lists.

With his guilty plea in October, Grussendorf admitted to engaging in sexual acts with two girls who were 12 and 13 in 2013 when he was 18. The plea agreement dismissed 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.

[Inmates continue legal battle against state]

The case gained statewide 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.

Ty Grussendorf was first indicted in 2015, 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 were dismissed over the next year and a half.

• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or amccarthy@juneauempire.com. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.

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