Navy officer pleads guilty in abuse case

Commander: 'I made a big mistake'

Posted: Monday, May 07, 2007

A U.S. Navy commander stationed in Juneau is headed for prison after pleading guilty to attempted sexual abuse of a minor.

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Cmdr. Robert Schetky, 54, is currently being treated in an addictions clinic in Pennsylvania.

In a January plea agreement with the state, Schetky admitted to touching the breasts of a 12-year-old girl. That same day, District Attorney Jack Schmidt had filed paperwork charging that Schetky did so on multiple occasions between September and December 2006.

"I made a big mistake," Schetky told police after his Jan. 16 arrest.

As part of the agreement, Schetky pleaded guilty to one count of attempted sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree. By doing so, Schetky accepted a four-year sentence with two years suspended and a requirement that he register as a sex offender for 15 years when not in jail.

Mark Meronis, spokesman for the Juneau District Attorney's Office, said that Schetky would most likely begin a two-year sentence in state prison.

Sentencing was originally set for March 29, but was postponed for Schetky's expected return from an intensive inpatient treatment facility.

Lt. Cmder Christy Hagen, a spokesperson with the U.S. Pacific Fleet said that at the time of arrest Schetky was the officer in charge of the U.S Pacific Fleet Maritime Homeland Defense Detachment in Juneau.

A former colleague said Schetky held a top-secret security clearance whose primary work focused on homeland security and maritime defense.

Schetky's victim told an investigator that he touched her several times a week last fall while Schetky's wife was gone from the home. The touching was over clothing and lasted for several minutes with each occurrence.

On Christmas, Schetky touched his victim again. That time he reached under her clothing to the skin.

"He told me that he was going to suck the warmth from me to his hands," his victim said.

The next time he tried to kiss his victim.

Schetky was arrested six days into the investigation of the charges. Schetky's wife posted bail before he was released into third-party custody and ordered to have no contact with his victim.

Schetky's custodians were instructed by the court to deliver him to a seventh floor office in the federal building, and pick him up after the workday ended.

Sgt. David Campbell, head of Juneau police investigations, said the investigation was complete and forwarded to the state Jan. 26. Schetky pleaded guilty hours later in Juneau Superior Court.

Schetky earlier told police that he knew the girl would talk to someone.

"Whatever she told you is the truth," Schetky said.

While waiting for sentencing, Schetky first entered treatment in an Arizona treatment facility in mid-February. The Meadows specializes in alcohol, drug and sexual addictions.

Records show that staff at The Meadows recommended follow-up treatment in Keystone, a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Pennsylvania.

Schetky left April 29 for a six-week inpatient program. Before leaving for Keystone he returned to Juneau and began the retirement from the Navy.

Asked if Schetky had planned to retire from his 28-year Navy career before his conviction, Hagen said only Schetky could answer that question.

Schetky's chain of command became aware of the incident almost immediately after his arrest.

"We kept the Navy informed," Campbell said.

Though Schetky's crime is fully prosecutable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, Hagen said the Navy chose to let the State of Alaska handle the prosecution of the sexual abuse case.

What effect the conviction will have on Schetky's retirement rests with the Secretary of the Navy. A few considerations come into play within naval regulations allowing the reduction of an officer's rank at retirement due to misconduct. Documents containing Navy regulations forwarded by Hagen show special consideration if an officer "abused a special position of trust," or commits an act that discredits the armed services.

While it remains to be seen how the Navy will handle Schetky's crimes in relation to his retirement benefits package, the state court system will proceed accordingly with the final formal sentencing phase.

Schetky is expected in Juneau Superior Court on June 21.

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