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Accused sex offender released on ankle monitor

Joseph R. Dennis allowed to travel before trial

Posted: June 14, 2012 - 12:05am

A Juneau man accused of sexually abusing a minor was granted permission to leave Juneau for Wasilla, should he abide by very specific conditions, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg said Joseph R. Dennis, 27, would be allowed to travel and stay with a third-party custodian in Wasilla while on an ankle monitor as he awaits his trial in August.

Dennis was arrested in January on suspicion of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl in Juneau who was known to him, according to the Juneau Police Department.

He was indicted by a grand jury later that month on one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, both unclassified felonies.

Originally, Dennis was held in custody on a $75,000 cash performance bond and a $25,000 cash appearance bond.

On Tuesday, Pallenberg accepted a proposal to lower the $75,000 performance bond to $20,000. The $25,000 appearance bond amount was kept the same, although it was made unsecured.

For Dennis to be released into the custody of his assigned third-party, he will now be required to post the full $20,000 bond.

Pallenberg had previously rejected a proposal to reduce bond to $5,000. That was after a lengthy bail review hearing in March.

During that hearing, Pallenberg approved Dennis’ aunt in Wasilla, Michelle Koker, to be his third-party custodian.

Dennis’ mother in Juneau, Susan Rogers, was also approved specifically to take her son to the airport when he flies to Wasilla. The third-party custodians are required to keep Dennis within sight and sound.

The program director of Alaska Pretrial Services, Dennis Johnson, also testified during the March hearing to assure the judge that electronic monitoring through their nonprofit was a trusted method of pre-trial release.

Johnson said the ankle monitors are titanium steel cuffs with real-time GPS/cellular units that are connected to active satellite maps.

Pretrial Services has offices in Anchorage, Wasilla, Kenai and Fairbanks with a 24/7 dispatch center that monitors movement of defendants.

Johnson said the ankle monitors sound when entering a pre-programed “exclusionary zone” such as a school or daycares. The monitors can also be programmed to sound for a specific address, such as a victim’s home.

Dennis’ attorney, Eric Hedland, told the judge that Pretrial Services would meet Dennis at the airport. Hedland said he would submit a specific travel plan to the court before Dennis’ flight.

Police said in an earlier release Dennis was investigated and arrested after the alleged victim’s mother filed a complaint with JPD on New Year’s Day.

Editor's note: Due to the sensitive subject matter of this article, the Juneau Empire has removed the commenting feature. Thank you for your understanding. 

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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