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I want to take a moment to thank Melanie Plenda and the Juneau Empire for the article about P.O.P. While as a whole we like and appreciate the article, there were a couple of points that we feel the need to clear up.
Stanley Brown pleaded guilty to one count of second degree sexual assault in July 2002 as part of a plea agreement. He was sentenced on Oct. 31. The original charges were used as aggravators at the sentencing. Judge Weeks made it clear, to those in the courtroom, that his only sympathies lay with the victims and he felt that had it gone to jury, Mr. Brown would have been convicted on all charges. The plea was agreed in order to spare the victims being victimized again by Mr. Brown's attorney in his feeble attempt to justify Mr. Brown's actions.
In terms of the statistics cited, let us clarify the crimes of the 37 offenders mentioned. These men are not all of the offenders found guilty of sex crimes against children. They are only the ones who have been convicted of first or second degree sexual abuse of a minor. There are two other groups that have offended against children third degree and attempted sexual abuse. It is our understanding that "third degree" is reserved for boyfriend-girlfriend type situations, and "attempted" is for the most part for fondling cases. All charges involving child victims are called "abuse," for adult victims it is "assault." We also want to make it clear that the offenders listed on the database are only those who have been convicted after 1996 and in no way is a complete representation of the number of offenders here in Juneau.
P.O.P. is in no way saying that Juneau is the only area where this is a problem. And we are taking steps to make this a statewide campaign for reform. When it comes to sex offender legislation, Alaska is still back somewhere in the dark ages. We want to put our children first in deed as well as speech. That is our goal; that is our campaign.
We are beginning with legislation regarding the sentencing laws for sex offenders but it doesn't stop there. There are many areas where reform is needed. It has come to our attention that there is a serious gap between what those who are working for our children, such as DFYS, Child Advocacy Center, AWARE, etc., recognize as sexual abuse and what is recognized by the court system. There are those who serve in the public safety arena that are very discouraged and disheartened by this gap in the justice system. It is very hard to tell a child that while what has been done to them is terrible, nothing can be done. We feel this gap must be closed.