Editor’s note: The following story contains a description of an alleged crime of a sexual nature. Readers are encouraged to use their own discretion when reading.
A Juneau man arrested on suspicion of sexually abusing an 8-year-old girl on New Year’s Eve had for his first court appearance Wednesday.
Juneau District Court Judge Thomas Nave appointed the public defender agency to represent Joseph R. Dennis, 27, and set bail at $100,000 at the prosecutor’s request.
The District Attorney charged Dennis on Wednesday with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor for engaging in sexual penetration with a person under 13 years of age.
That’s an unclassified felony that can carry up to 99 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. Presumptive sentencing is between 25 and 35 years if it’s the offender’s first felony conviction; 35 and 45 for a second felony; and up to 99 years for the third.
Court records show the victim’s mother also filed for short and long-term domestic violence protective orders against Dennis for both herself and her daughter. Nave approved both the 20-day short-term protective orders on Wednesday, which are effective immediately, and he scheduled hearings later this month for the long-term orders.
Prosecutors allege Dennis had touched the girl inappropriately on New Year’s Eve, and that a medical examination by the Child Advocacy Center found the victim showed signs of trauma to the vaginal area, according to an affidavit filed by Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp.
The Juneau Police Department announced Wednesday in a release they had launched an investigation into the matter after they received the complaint on Jan. 1. JPD also announced in the release Dennis had been arrested.
Kemp told the judge in court on Wednesday that Dennis has an extensive criminal history, had 10 prior convictions and is currently on probation for a 2010 city criminal trespass case.
Nave imposed a $75,000 cash performance bond and $25,000 appearance bond, but ordered that Dennis could not to be released from prison even if he was able to post the $75,000 cash.
Nave assigned the court case to Juneau District Court Judge Keith Levy, and scheduled another hearing for Jan. 13.
Dennis told Nave in the courtroom that he was currently unemployed and had been out of work for a couple of years.
Court records show Dennis has never been charged or convicted with a sexual crime before. At least one person in the past (who is not involved with the present case) has filed a temporary restraining order against Dennis, according to court documents. Dennis pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor domestic violence offense in July of 2009 in connection with that case, according to court papers.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.