Man avoids jail in lewdness case

Posted: Tuesday, March 05, 2002

A man accused of exposing himself to several women in his West Juneau neighborhood will avoid jail if he continues to get counseling, Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks ruled on Monday.

Robert Tonkin, 46, was arrested in October when several women on Pioneer Avenue told police they had seen him exposing himself and masturbating in front of his window and after police caught his behavior on surveillance tape.

Eight counts of misdemeanor open lewdness stemming from the alleged incidents were dropped as part of a plea bargain agreement with the city.

Tonkin pleaded no contest Friday to one count of misdemeanor harassment stemming from an offense of standing naked in his front window, staring at his neighbor.

After 90 minutes of testimony from three witnesses and one alleged victim of these incidents, Superior Court Judge Larry Weeks sentenced Tonkin to 90 days in jail with 90 days suspended, a $1,000 fine and counseling.

"Maybe you believe in your mind this was a consensual act, but I don't believe it, not for one second do I believe it was consensual," Weeks said during the sentencing. "You're lucky to have a prosecutor who allowed these kinds of results, and to have the kind of victims you had, who can maybe not forget but forgive."

Kiernan O'Fallen, one of the neighbors who said she witnessed Tonkin masturbating at his window while he looked into her bedroom, said the alleged incident was anything but consensual.

"It was a visual rape," said O'Fallen during the sentencing. "At least this neighborhood stood up and said this is unacceptable. I don't think we are victims, but survivors of being victimized. ... I just hope he gets the help he needs."

Tonkin was not convicted on charges from the incident involving O'Fallen.

Carol Rose, another neighbor, was witness to the harassment for which Tonkin was convicted.

She told Weeks during sentencing that late last summer she was washing her vehicle in her driveway when she noticed Tonkin naked and staring at her from his window. At the same time, a delivery driver, Jason Waterhouse, witnessed Tonkin's behavior. Waterhouse said in court that Tonkin "was doing jumping jacks or dancing or something."

Rose said that Tonkin came out of his house clothed and asked her if her husband was out of town a lot. Rose said in court Tonkin was always a good neighbor, outside of these incidents, and she doesn't feel vindictive toward him.

Tonkin, who still lives in the neighborhood, apologized in court for "this unfortunate incident."

"I am a good person," he said following the sentencing. "I am a good member of the community. I contribute to the community and I will continue to try to do that."

Melanie Plenda can be reached at mplenda@juneauempire.com.



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