Former Juneau Assembly member Dwight Perkins pleaded guilty to one count of misdemeanor harassment Tuesday, agreeing that he touched a woman Oct. 1 with the intent to offend.
Perkins is scheduled for sentencing Feb. 8. The offense carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail, a $1,000 fine and possibly restitution if the victim needs professional counseling.
In exchange for the guilty plea, prosecutors agreed to drop a second count of harassment based upon another woman's statement that Perkins touched her in an offensive way on one occasion between July 1999 and March 2000. Perkins was deputy commissioner of the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development throughout both time periods in question.
The state also agreed not to pursue any additional allegations made during the course of its investigation, said Perkins' attorney, Thomas Nave. In an interview after the proceeding before District Court Judge Peter Froehlich, Nave said there had been some "messy loose ends," including anonymous, unsubstantiated accounts of other incidents of harassment. The agreement does not prevent the state from moving forward on fresh evidence of a crime in the future, the defense attorney said.
Perkins, 47, did not address the court Tuesday except to confirm his change of plea and verify that he understood the conditions of his release. He declined to be interviewed.
The victim in the case, whose name was kept confidential, did not attend Tuesday's hearing. Assistant District Attorney David Brower said she will attend the sentencing hearing in Juneau District Court.
Perkins faced the two harassment charges just 10 days into his stint as legislative director for Gov. Tony Knowles. He pleaded innocent Nov. 16, but did not return to the governor's office. He announced Nov. 21 he had decided to "withdraw my acceptance" of the position. He returned to the state Labor Department as assistant to Commissioner Ed Flanagan, with duties similar to those he had in six years as deputy commissioner.
Flanagan noted Tuesday that he has said "in the event that there was a guilty plea, I'd have to reassess." He said that's what he's doing now and said he might not make a decision on whether to retain Perkins until after sentencing.
In his plea, Perkins admitted he made an unwanted physical advance toward a woman Oct. 1 while they were opening a building for a meeting. Court documents did not identify the building or detail the type of meeting. Flanagan has said prosecutors told him the victim did not work for or with Perkins.
According to the woman's account, Perkins persisted in what she thought would be a short hug, rubbed his body against her, fondled her and said he wanted to have sex with her. She later helped police monitor a conversation between them in which Perkins admitted to most of the conduct, according to the criminal complaint filed against Perkins.
Nave got Judge Froehlich's permission for Perkins to leave town for counseling appointments, as well as for work. The counseling is "relevant" to the charges against Perkins, although there are other issues involved "that are very painful to him," Nave said.
He said he would fight against a jail term for Perkins, saying incarceration "does very little for anybody." Fines, restitution and community work service are among appropriate options for the judge to consider, Nave said.
Bill McAllister can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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