A 40-year-old man with a history of mental illness pleaded guilty Thursday to three felonies for kidnapping and raping a teenage girl last year.
Christopher A. Scholes pleaded guilty to kidnapping, sexual assault in the first degree and sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree in Juneau Superior Court. He faces up to 99 years in prison for each charge.
Scholes admitted Thursday to kidnapping and raping the 15-year-old girl on the evening of Dec. 1, 2008. Scholes walked up behind her on a path in the Mendenhall Valley near Floyd Dryden Middle School and choked her until she passed out, according to court documents. Scholes used duct tape to bind the girl and carried her to his car and drove to his home where he raped her. He later drove the girl back to the school and left her there blindfolded. Scholes did not know the victim, according to court records.
Scholes fled the state after committing the crimes and was apprehended a week later in East Sound, Wash., on a felony arrest warrant. He was extradited back to Alaska and has been held in the Lemon Creek Correctional Center.
Sgt. Dave Campbell said the Juneau Police Department put a tremendous amount of time and resources into the case to ensure a conviction.
Scholes was originally indicted by a grand jury on 17 felony counts, but the plea agreement consolidated seven counts of sexual assaults into one charge and seven counts of sexual abuse of a minor into one charge. One count of assault and one count of tampering with evidence were dismissed as part of the agreement.
It is unclear how much prison time Scholes will serve due to several factors, including that he has not been convicted of a felony before.
The plea agreement left sentencing open for Superior Court Judge Philip Pallenberg.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for Jan. 14.
The sexual assault conviction carries up to 99 years in prison, but for a first-time felon the presumptive sentence is between 20 and 35 years, Pallenberg said. The presumptive time for the sexual abuse of a minor charge is five to 15 years. The kidnapping charge by law does not have a presumptive sentence, but the minimum sentence is five years in prison and the maximum is 99.
Sentences can be served concurrently, consecutive or a combination of the two, Pallenberg said.
It is likely Scholes will be sentenced to at least 25 years in prison. He must register as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
Scholes was in court-ordered therapy at the time of the kidnapping for a mental illness. He had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, according to court documents.
Outside the courthouse Thursday, Laura Scholes said the crimes her ex-husband pleaded guilty to do not sound like the man she has known for 20 years.
"This is a startling departure from his normal personality," she said. "He has always been a gentle, nonviolent person. He is also mentally ill, I have no doubt."
The Federal Bureau of Investigation released its annual crime report this week. Alaska ranked No. 1 in the country in the category of forcible rape per capita.