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A Juneau jury returned guilty verdicts on 41 counts of sexual abuse Tuesday in the trial of a Sitka couple accused of molesting three girls aged 3 to 13 for several years.
Cynthia Sky, 40, and Dick Blue Sky, 48, were found guilty on 32 counts of felony first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and two counts of felony child exploitation. Dick Blue Sky was found guilty on seven separate counts of felony sexual abuse of a minor.
The abuse took place from 1994 to 2001 in Sitka and on Bauer Island, 40 miles north of Sitka. Last week, three of the Skys' victims, now 11, 12, and 14, testified in graphic detail about how the Skys placed one of them in a homemade stockade, forced all of them to perform sexual acts with the Skys as part of what the couple called a "sex club" and abused the girls with sexual devices.
"This is concrete proof for our daughters that none of this was their fault," said the mother of the 12- and 14-year-old sisters who testified. "We're so proud of our girls and we are so grateful to the jury for judging this on the evidence and not being manipulated by 'Blue.' "
The mother of the 11-year-old who testified said she didn't think her daughter fully understood the ramifications of Tuesday's verdict, but may in time.
"I don't think she fully understands that he will be in jail pretty much until he dies and that she and the other girls are responsible for that," she said. "Because she and the other girls were so brave, they probably saved countless other kids. ... Now they can get on with their lives."
Sentencing for the couple is set for Aug. 19. The Skys can get up to 30 years in prison for each sex abuse count and up to 10 years for each exploitation of a minor count.
Dick Blue Sky stared at the jury and then smiled broadly at his wife, whispering "it's OK" as the verdicts were returned.
He was heard in the hallway of the courthouse claiming the couple was unable to put on a defense because information from the couple's first set of lawyers did not get to their present attorneys Darrel Gardner and Sidney Billingslea. He said the couple plans to appeal the verdict.
During the trial the couple was allowed to defend themselves partially because they refused to talk about the case with their attorneys until May 13, the day the trial started. The defense attorneys did not present opening or closing arguments nor did they question most of the prosecution's witnesses. They said they did not have adequate time to prepare because their clients wouldn't cooperate with them.
Both attorneys, based in Anchorage, were unavailable for questions after the trial. Messages left for them at their Anchorage offices were not returned by the Empire's mid-day deadline.
District Attorney Rick Svobodny said he was pleased with the verdict and doesn't believe it will be overturned on appeal.
"They (Skys' attorneys) had 15 months to prepare," said Svobodny. "If they chose not to communicate with their clients or their clients with them that was a bad tactical move and one done just so that they could set these points up in appeal.
"These are two experienced attorneys who could have made a case but in essence ended up throwing their case. I hope that's the position the Court of Appeals takes."
Dick Blue Sky is awaiting another trial, set for mid-June, on a weapons charge. He also faces a felony charge of failing to register as a sex offender. No trail date has been set on that charge. Blue Sky has a 1988 felony sex abuse conviction from Montana and is prohibited by law from owning a firearm. He also must register as a sex offender. The state claims weapons were found on Bauer Island and that he never registered in Alaska.
Svobodny said Dick Blue Sky will get a minimum of 15 years because of his prior felony conviction and Cynthia Sky will get a minimum of eight years in prison. Svobodny said he will make a sentence recommendation that "will be nowhere near the minimums."
Melanie Plenda can be reached at email@example.com.