A retired Coast Guard veteran was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting a 12-year-old boy at a Juneau church camp last spring and then paying $300 to keep the child from reporting the crime.
Ketchikan resident Darren Jacksch, 42, also was convicted for sexually abusing a 10-year-old child in his home in 2004, while still in the Coast Guard.
Court records show Jacksch was employed at the Ketchikan Charter School at the time of his December 2007 arrest.
Juneau Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg suspended 12 years of Jacksch's sentence and ordered the 42-year-old to serve eight years in prison beginning Tuesday night. A paperwork mix-up delayed Jacksch's entrance into prison; instead he spent the night with his family at the Driftwood Inn. Jacksch entered Lemon Creek Correctional Center on Wednesday.
Jacksch is the second career military man in as many years to be convicted of sexually abusing children in Juneau. Cmdr. Robert Schetky was sentenced to four years for attempted sexual abuse of a 12-year-old. At the time of his crimes, Schetky was the highest-ranking Navy officer in Alaska.
For 10 years after his release, Jacksch must register as a sex offender and not have contact with anyone under 18 without written approval. Pallenberg said pedophiles have a high recidivism rate and that Jacksch "posed a risk to minors."
The director of the Ketchikan Charter School did not return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment on Jacksch's employment or when it ended.
Tuesday, with his wife and three children present, Jacksch spoke briefly before Pallenberg handed down his sentence.
"I'm truly sorry for the events that occurred, its effect on the families, and its effect on the school," Jacksch said. "I can say from my Coast Guard career, I can follow rules. This will not happen again."
Pallenberg said Jacksch showed no serious acceptance of responsibility for his actions. It's difficult to assess whether or not Jacksch gained any insight into the crimes he committed, Pallenberg said. His apology letters were form mail, he said.
"I'm troubled by the fact that he blamed a 12-year-old," Pallenberg said. "You can't blame a 12-year-old."
Jacksch molested his victim the first time at about 8 p.m. on May 27, 2007, as the child lay in a tent at a church camp with nearly a dozen others. After the child returned from a trip to the bathroom, he zipped "his sleeping bag around his face in an attempt to keep the defendant (Jacksch) from touching him again," according to documents filed by Assistant District Attorney David Brower.
"The defendant (Jacksch) again engaged in extensive sexual abuse," Brower said.
"I was raised in the faith, and it's always been the safest place on Earth," the victim's father said.
No documents in court named the church camp, and Brower said he didn't know the name of the camp. Brower said police intended to follow up with the church retreat in Juneau. There were never any other complaints so officials didn't follow up, Brower said.
The lead Alaska State Trooper investigator on the case did not return a call Wednesday.
Jacksch's wife, Bonnie, said the camp was out the road on private property.
According to court documents, the child's father called Jacksch on May 28 to say he heard "very disturbing things." Troopers were listening when Jacksch told the father he "would probably not understand."
"He grabbed my hand," Jacksch said. "It was comforting."
The child's father said his son would never start a sexual encounter as Jacksch fully described.
"We're into motor sports and 'hoorah stuff,' you know what I'm saying," the father said.
Jacksch admitted to his sexual act in detail and said he had a similar incident as a child. Jacksch said he enjoyed it.
"And then you paid him off like a prostitute," the father said.
Over the phone, Jacksch admitted to paying the child $300 in hush money, according to court documents.
"From our family's point of view, the kid was trying to extort my dad," Jacksch's 17-year-old son, Elliot, said in a phone interview Wednesday. "It's a case of he said she said. It's my opinion that he's innocent."
Elliot Jacksch said his father pleaded guilty to skip the heavy financial burden legal expenses would put on his family.
"You tell me, who's going to win in a child molestation case?" Elliot Jacksch asked.
At sentencing, Defense Attorney Loren Stanton argued that Jacksch should receive a lesser sentence, saying his client was a decorated veteran of the Coast Guard who was suicidal and deeply depressed over the issue. Stanton said Jacksch was willing to pay for his victims' counseling.
"His remorse is extensive," Stanton said.
Chief Petty Officer Barry Lane said he searched two databases and found no records of Jacksch's service. Lane said the failure to find records didn't mean that Jacksch didn't serve. Coast Guard attorneys were not familiar with the case, he said
Elliot Jacksch said his father exited Coast Guard service from Ketchikan in October 2006. If true, Jacksch's first crime occurred while he was serving in the Coast Guard.
Brower said the 2004 Ketchikan molestation of a 10-year-old happened in Jacksch's home. After word got out that Jacksch was arrested on a charge of sexual abuse, the other victim was discovered, he said.
Little information is publicly available about the older crime, and Stanton did not return a call Wednesday.
"I know less about that one," Elliot Jacksch said.