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JPD arrests man for sex assault in Marine Park

Gilbert C. Willard, 49, makes first court appearance Friday afternoon

Posted: August 23, 2013 - 11:41am  |  Updated: August 25, 2013 - 12:08am
Gilbert Charles Willard, 49, makes his first court appearance in Juneau District Court Friday afternoon. Police arrested him earlier in the day on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in Marine Park.  Emily Russo Miller / Juneau Empire
Emily Russo Miller / Juneau Empire
Gilbert Charles Willard, 49, makes his first court appearance in Juneau District Court Friday afternoon. Police arrested him earlier in the day on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in Marine Park.

(Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to include information from the defendant’s first court appearance and from court documents.)

Police say they arrested a 49-year-old man on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in Marine Park Friday morning.

The man was identified by police as Juneau resident Gilbert Charles Willard, and he was taken to Lemon Creek Correctional Center without bail.

According to an information release from the police department, the case arose from a witness who saw the suspect “sexually grope” a woman in the park at about 1:30 a.m.

The witness told police she saw the woman passed out in the park earlier in the evening, but when she tried to wake her, the woman was too intoxicated.

Police say the victim, a 28-year-old Juneau resident, said she did not know Willard and she did not consent to having sex. She was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Willard was still at Marine Park, along with the woman and the witness, when responding police officers arrived. He was taken to BRH for evidence collection and lodged at the jail.

He made his first court appearance later in the afternoon. The Juneau District Attorney’s Office charged him via criminal information with two felonies: sexual assault in the second degree and third degrees. Those offenses encompass having sex and sexual contact with a person who is incapacitated or unaware that a sexual act is being committed.

Juneau District Attorney James Scott said in court that Willard “largely confessed” and described the state’s case as strong since they have a witness. An affidavit alleges Willard gave incriminating statements to police officers, such as he knew that the woman was too drunk and she was unaware of what was happening.

Arguing for a high bail amount — $100,000 cash — Scott said Willard presents a danger to the community and is a flight risk. The prosecutor noted that Willard has a “long and busy” criminal history: 26 prior convictions in the past 21 years. All are misdemeanors except a single felony conviction for assault in April 1992. The misdemeanors included offenses such as assault, stolen merchandise, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief, Scott said.

Magistrate James Curtain granted the state’s bail request, despite opposition from Assistant Public Defender Timothy Ayer who said it was “absolutely excessive.” Ayer said $25,000 was more reasonable.

A hearing in the case was scheduled to take place next Friday.

Second-degree sexual assault is a class ‘B’ sex offense felony that has a presumptive sentencing range of five to 15 years in prison, and third-degree sexual assault is a class ‘C’ felony with a presumptive two to 12 year range. The maximum possible penalty for both is 99 years.

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

•••

(Original version of article appears below.)

JPD arrests man for sex assault in Marine Park

By EMILY RUSSO MILLER

JUNEAU EMPIRE

Police say they arrested a 49-year-old man on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in Marine Park Friday morning.

The man was identified by police as Juneau resident Gilbert Charles Willard, and he is being held at Lemon Creek Correctional Center without bail.

According to an information release from the police department, the case arose from a witness who saw the suspect “sexually grope” a woman in the park at about 1:30 a.m.

The witness told police she saw the woman passed out in the park earlier in the evening, but when she tried to wake her, the woman was too intoxicated.

Police say the victim, a 28-year-old Juneau resident, said she did not know the assailant and she did not consent to having sex. She was taken to Bartlett Regional Hospital for evaluation and treatment.

Willard was still at Marine Park, along with the woman and the witness, when responding police officers arrived. He was taken to BRH for evidence collection and ultimately charged with sexual assault in the second degree, a felony offense which encompasses having sex with a person who is incapacitated or unaware that a sexual act is being committed.

The Juneau Police Department could not be reached Friday morning for further comment.

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

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