SITKA - A Sitka man convicted of sexually abusing three young girls in a makeshift "sex camp" was sentenced Friday to the equivalent of life in prison.
Dick Blue Sky, 49, was sentenced to 75 years in prison with 20 years suspended and 10 years of probation. His wife, Cynthia Sky, 41, was sentenced to 36 years in prison with 10 years suspended and 10 years of probation.
The couple was found guilty in May 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 of seven separate counts of felony sexual abuse of a minor. The charges stemmed from numerous instances of sexual abuse between 1994 and 2001. The trial was held in Juneau.
The Skys were arrested in February 2001 on Bauer Island, 50 miles north of Sitka. The private island was the setting for much of the abuse the girls, now ages 11, 12, and 14, sustained throughout their childhoods.
The Empire is not releasing the names of the girls or their parents.
"I have not had a very good childhood," said a letter written by the 12-year-old victim. Her mother read the letter during Friday's Sitka Superior Court hearing as part of testimony the judge considered for sentencing. The letter was faxed from a Utah medical center where the girl is undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder caused by her years of abuse, her mother said Friday. Her older sister, also abused by the Skys, recently was released from the same program.
"I hope they never get out of jail," the victim's letter said. "This has affected me physically in that I don't trust. They got me hooked on drugs and alcohol. They made me violent and I try to hit anyone that comes near me because I think they are going to do what they did to me. I do that because that's what I had to do to protect me and my sister to try to make them stop abusing us.
"I hope they never get out of jail. I hope they never get a chance to hurt other kids."
District Attorney Rick Svobodny recommended 90 years prison time for Dick Blue Sky and 60 year for his wife. The couple's probation officer asked for 588 and 241 years respectively based on the number of charges against them.
Ketchikan Superior Court Judge Michael Thompson, who presided over the trial, said he wanted to avoid symbolic sentences extending beyond the criminals' lifespans so they would not be overturned on appeal.
"I can't ignore that neither of you have shown anything that resembles anything like remorse, or embarrassment or shame, for what you've done," said Thompson at the sentencing. "My options are limited to some extent. We don't use stocks or torture or hard labor. We pretty much have confinement, probation and freedom, or a combination of those three.
"My judgment has to be one that takes into account emotional views and one that the court of appeals can live with. ... Or we will be right back here having to do the same thing all over again."
Thompson said during the hearing that he gave Cynthia Sky a lighter sentence because he believed she never would have committed such abuse without Blue Sky.
"I'm satisfied that 10 years ago she didn't know any of these tricks until she hitched her wagon to Mr. Sky and I assume Mr. Sky isn't likely to learn any clean tricks," Thompson said. "It is so ingrained in Mr. Sky that he can't unlearn it. The Department of Corrections has two programs for sex offenders and I hope you both take advantage of them while you are in there. Whether or not you'll be successful is anybody's guess."
As part of the sentence the Skys are required to register as sex offenders for the rest of their lives.
The couple denied any wrongdoing.
"This is talk show justice, not law," testified Sky. "I hope the people involved in this find some sort of peace and solace in the sentence even though it will be false peace and solace. All of this has been a product for blaming us for somebody else's situation."
Blue Sky testified that the couple did not receive a "real trial" and criticized everyone from the prosecutor to the couple's defense attorneys for what he called a "miscarriage of justice."
Cynthia Sky said she supported her husband's statements and claimed, despite what defense attorneys said to the contrary during the hearing, the couple did nothing criminally wrong.
After the sentencing, Cynthia Sky's stepmother, Ruth Jones, said she was still in "a shocked sort of limbo."
"I love my daughter," said Jones. "On the one hand she's over here telling me they didn't do anything wrong. Over there you have these little girls saying they did all of these terrible things to them. ... This is just something you can't ever believe about your daughter."
Darrel Gardener, attorney for Dick Blue Sky, said his verdict and sentence would be appealed. Gardener declined further comment.
Sidney Billingslea, attorney for Cynthia Sky, said she hoped the sentence would bring closure for the families and begin the healing process for everyone. She said in an interview that she felt Cynthia Sky's sentence was fair. However, she said Sky would probably appeal.
District Attorney Svobodny said he was satisfied with the court's decision, although he believed Cynthia Sky was as culpable for the crimes as her husband and should have received a longer sentence. He called the victims "heroes who saved the lives of other children."
As part of the sentencing hearing, the mother of the 11-year-old victim read a letter addressed to the Skys from her daughter.
"I won't ever live a normal life," the girl said. "But I had the courage to fight back and tell my mom. When you brought me to that island and wouldn't let me leave, I was scared. Now I'm not scared. I fell for your tricks, but I saved other young kids.
"I would like them to be in jail for eternity."
Melanie Plenda can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.