A Juneau judge on Thursday sentenced a sex offender to serve the remainder of his suspended prison time — five years — after finding that he violated his probation.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg said he didn’t believe it was appropriate “to give rapists a second chance,” especially someone who raped children, he noted.
“I use that word because I think that it’s called for,” Pallenberg said, noting that people in court often speak in euphemisms. “It’s a horribly serious crime.”
Dressed in orange prison garb, Adam L. Rogers, 36, appeared to well up in tears before being whisked out of the courtroom. Rogers has always maintained his innocence and never admitted to the crimes. A Juneau probation officer testified Thursday that he was in denial and has yet to complete sex offender treatment.
A Juneau jury convicted Rogers nearly 10 years ago on six counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor for engaging in penile penetration, fellatio and cunnilingus with a 3-year-old child and another 3- or 4-year-old child. He knew both of the victims, the judge said.
He was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison, but that sentence was reduced on appeal in 2006 to eight years with five years suspended.
Pallenberg said that he didn’t know the basis for the appeal, just that the appellate court remanded the case back down the trial court after making its ruling. The state ended up dropping the convictions for all four counts relating to the 3-year-old child. The fifth and sixth convictions in connection to the second victim stuck, Pallenberg said.
Even though those convictions were dropped, Pallenberg said that didn’t mean the alleged offense didn’t happen. In fact, he said he took the jury’s verdict as fact.
“It’s not my place to second-guess the jury’s verdict,” Pallenberg said.
Rogers was released from custody in December 2008 and began supervised probation for 10 years. Shortly thereafter in 2009, he was transferred to Oklahoma.
Rogers violated the terms of his probation when he was convicted of drug misconduct in Oklahoma in January of this year, Pallenberg ruled earlier.
According to an affidavit, Rogers pleaded guilty to possessing methamphetamine in January after a sheriff’s deputy found the drugs in his wallet during a traffic stop in Osage County, Okla. Rogers was also in the presence of a minor against court orders — he was sitting in the backseat of a vehicle with a 4-year-old girl, who was strapped into a car seat, when the car was pulled over.
Pallenberg noted that the girl’s parents were in the car with them, but that it was still a dangerous situation since drugs were involved, there were indications that the methamphetamine was manufactured and the parents were probably not being effective in protecting their child.
“It’s a recipe for disaster,” the judge said. “It’s not a situation in which a child is given the protection that she deserves.”
Pallenberg also noted that at the time of Rogers sentencing hearing nearly 10 years ago, the presumptive sentencing range for first-degree sexual abuse of a minor was eight years in prison. Now, the state Legislature requires a presumptive range of 25 to 35 years.
If Rogers were convicted of all six felony convictions today, he would be facing a minimum sentence of 56 years in prison to serve, Pallenberg said. If Rogers were convicted on just the two felony convictions that stuck, he would still be facing a minimum of about 31 years, Pallenberg said.
Pallenberg noted that of course the court cannot apply laws that were not yet in effect at the time, but that he considers the stricter sentencing ranges reflective of the “extraordinarily” high level of community condemnation for cases involving sexual abuse of children.
Rogers’ attorney, assistant public defender Timothy Ayer, had argued that rehabilitation should be the focus of the sentence since the probation violation was not a violent crime and there were no victims.
“There’s nothing here to show he’s a danger to anybody,” Ayer said.
Ayer said his client has frequently been a scapegoat out of loyalty to others. He said the methamphetamine was not Rogers and that Rogers was covering for his friends to keep them out of trouble. Ayer added Rogers has done well on probation up until this point, and that he was getting a ride home from a treatment program when the vehicle was pulled over by the deputy.
Ayer requested Rogers serve six months in prison and then be released on probation, in addition to more sex offender and substance abuse treatment.
Pallenberg rejected that proposal, and he ruled that isolation should be the most important sentencing factor, as Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp had argued. Kemp had asked the court to impose all of Rogers’ remaining prison sentence.
“Mr. Rogers absolutely deserves every last day of suspended time,” Kemp said.
Rogers declined to address the court when given the chance.
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.