Former JDHS coach found guilty of sexual assault

Posted: Wednesday, October 20, 2010

• Editor's note: The following story contains a description of an alleged crime of a sexual nature. Readers are encouraged to use their own discretion when reading.

Michael Penn / Juneau Empire
Michael Penn / Juneau Empire

A jury in Juneau Superior Court Tuesday found a former Juneau-Douglas High School basketball coach guilty of second-degree sexual assault .

The charges stemmed from a 2009 incident when James Hamey, at the time a Catholic Services Care-A-Van driver, went to the home of a client and touched her breast without her consent.

"We ruled exactly on the evidence we had," juror Tammy Murphy stated after the trial. "There were three points we had to consider and we went through those points at length."

According to Murphy, two points were agreed on with little difficulty, sexual contact without consent and abusing a position of power.

"It was the third point that we were having some difficulty with," Murphy said. "The reckless lack of consent."

After failing to reach a verdict during about three hours of deliberation Friday, the jury reconvened after the Alaska Day weekend at 8 a.m. Tuesday and deliberated until past noon on Tuesday.

Murphy was asked if Louis Menendez' closing argument that Hamey and the victim had a special relationship was given close attention. Menendez is Hamey's attorney.

"We gave a lot of thought to Mr. Menendez' spin that they had something there," Murphy said. "But both Hamey and the victim denied there was a special relationship.

"We want the public to know we took this very seriously. We went through every point by point by point. There is a feeling of relief this is over. It's painfully hard to see this man, well known in the community, in court... and his family there. It was interesting to be part of but it breaks my heart. We have to remember that we weren't the reason his family was in court. You just think, 'what the heck were you thinking when you went there?'"

The verdict was given to Judge Patricia Collins, who was filling in for Philip Pallenberg.

District Attorney Doug Gardner asked for a new bail ruling, since a new Alaska law denies bail to people convicted of sex crimes. He further said Hamey was under the presumption of innocence when earlier bail was set, had another trial beginning Nov. 29 on more serious charges, and the risks to the community have increased. Gardner asked for a $50,000 cash only performance bail.

At a later hearing Tuesday, Pallenberg ruled the new statute did not apply to Hamey's case since the assault occurred before the bill's passing. Pallenberg further said the court did not consider Hamey a flight risk and bail conditions of third party custodianship and no contact with the victim had worked to this point and would continue until sentencing. Pallenberg said a preliminary sentencing date would be set for sometime in January.

Menendez asked for a judgment of acquittal of the case or, barring that, for the verdict to be set aside and a new trial to begin immediately. Pallenberg set a date of Oct. 29 for that motion to be considered.

Hamey had no comment through his attorney Menendez after the verdict.

Gardner stated, "After five days of trial in a vigorously contested case the jury returned a guilty verdict," Gardner said. "The state respects that verdict and intends to vigorously defend that verdict."

"I now understand why these types of sexual assaults go unreported," the victim said after the trial. "Due to the reliving of the act, the fear of the perpetrator and his family... but I think more women can do this. I just encourage women to stay strong if it happens to them, there is support out there."

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at

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