Alaska Digest

Staff and Wire reports

Posted: Thursday, July 21, 2005

29-year-old pleads guilty in assault

JUNEAU - A 29-year-old man charged with what the state prosecutor called "a savage beating" in June has agreed to plead guilty to a misdemeanor that will land him two years in prison.

Leonard Schenck agreed in Juneau Superior Court on Wednesday to plead guilty to misdemeanor fourth-degree assault and accept the maximum jail sentence of one year.

He originally faced a felony charge of third-degree assault, which would have carried a maximum prison sentence of five years.

He also agreed to accept the reinstatement of a year of jail time that was suspended in October from an 18-month sentence on a charge of second-degree forgery.

Judge Patricia Collins, who sentenced Schenck in last fall's case, said Wednesday that while there was no question about the jail time for the assault agreement, she didn't feel comfortable sentencing Schenck until her questions were answered concerning restitution for the victim's medical bills.

She scheduled sentencing for next Wednesday.

Schenck will get credit for time he has served since his arrest June 27.

Police reported that after receiving a call that night about a fight in the woods in the Jordan Creek area, they found the victim, a 27-year-old man, bleeding profusely from the head and face.

At Schenck's court appearance the day after his arrest, Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner described the assault as "a very savage beating." He said the victim sustained two broken eye sockets.

Woman pleads guilty to robbery, burglary

JUNEAU - A 46-year-old woman agreed Tuesday in Juneau Superior Court to plead guilty to charges of first-degree burglary and second-degree burglary for two cases.

Elizabeth Sosa-Flores originally was scheduled to enter a plea agreement in April in a February burglary case, but the hearing was postponed because she appeared that day in court in connection with a separate reported armed robbery.

On April 18, according to police reports, a 64-year-old man said he was held up at gunpoint in Cope Park by a man appeared out of the woods while he was meeting with Sosa-Flores to lend her money. The man ran into the woods with his wallet, containing $300.

A 17-year-old boy originally was charged as an adult in the crime, but the Juneau District Attorney's Office later dismissed the adult charges. Sosa-Flores was indicted on charges of first-degree robbery and conspiracy to commit first-degree robbery in a crime police described as planned and practiced.

Judge Larry Weeks scheduled sentencing for Sept. 14. The plea agreement left sentencing open to his discretion. Each offense Sosa-Flores pleaded guilty to carries a maximum prison term of 10 years.

Party set for Saturday at Brittany Place

JUNEAU - Brittany Place between No. 1311 and Chatham Drive will be closed to vehicles from about 2 p.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday for a block party.

Retired Kenai judge Cranston dies at 73

KENAI - Retired Kenai Superior Court Judge Charles Cranston, 73, died Tuesday of natural causes.

Cranston retired from the bench in 1996, but continued serving as a judge pro tem until his death.

Cranston was everything a good judge should be, said Kenai attorney Carol Brenckle.

"He maintained his distance. He would be neutral. I never felt he prejudged a case," she said. "Anyone who is a judge in Alaska would look up to him as the epitome. He was a judge for all times."

Cranston was particularly compassionate in domestic relations cases, paying special attention to the needs of the children involved, Brenckle said.

Born in Denver in 1932, Cranston received his law degree from the University of California-Berkeley in 1959. In 1968, he moved to Alaska, where he joined the Attorney General's Office, first in Juneau and then serving in Anchorage. In 1972, he entered private practice in Anchorage, focusing on civil cases.

Cranston was appointed to the Kenai Superior Court in 1981 by then-Gov. Jay Hammond.

During his retirement, Cranston was instrumental in founding the Kenai Peninsula Youth Court.

Fourth lawsuit filed against retired priest

ANCHORAGE - A fourth lawsuit has been filed in Alaska against a retired Catholic priest by a woman who contends she was sexually abused as a teenager in the late 1960s.

The Catholic Church already has settled two other cases against James Poole. A third claim is pending.

The latest lawsuit was filed Tuesday in Nome Superior Court and seeks damages from Poole, the Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska Jesuits and the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province.

The plaintiff, who is identified only as Jane Doe 3, is now married and does office work for a living but still has serious problems because of Poole, said her attorney, Ken Roosa of Anchorage.

Poole is now in his 80s and lives in a retirement home for Jesuits in Spokane, Wash. Neither Poole nor an Oregon Jesuit representative could be reached Wednesday morning.

According to the new lawsuit, in July 1969, Poole asked Jane Doe 3 to visit him at the rectory so he could counsel her. He took her into a darkened hallway, "pushed her against the wall ... and had sexual intercourse with her," the lawsuit contends.

"As always, we are saddened to hear of anyone claiming this sort of an injury," said Ronnie Rosenberg, human resources director for the Fairbanks Diocese.

The diocese received the complaint Monday and launched its own investigation, which is difficult because so much time has passed and some key church leaders from that time are dead, she said.

Poole worked in Holy Cross, Pilot Station, Marshall, Mountain Village, St. Marys, Barrow and Nome, according to the lawsuit.

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