Hoonah resident sentenced to 40 years in prison

Posted: Wednesday, November 24, 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.

A Hoonah man was sentenced to 40 years in prison Tuesday after being convicted earlier this year of sexually abusing a foster child in his care.

Thomas Jack actually received a sentence of 50 years in prison, but Judge Philip Pallenberg suspended 10 years of that time.

Several people testified on Jack's behalf in an attempt to mitigate his sentence. Pallenberg's Superior Court room was filled Tuesday, mostly with Jack's friends and family.

Most of the testimony on Jack's behalf focused on the hole Jack would leave in his extended Tlingit family if he was imprisoned for a long time.

"In the Native society, the uncles are the ones who teach," said Louise Duxsaaatlaa Kadinger," Jack's sister. "He has many nieces and nephews to help, you have seen what the state thinks of him but there is so much more depth to this man than you will ever know, look at him in a broader light that what has been shown to you, understand that there is more to him than you have seen."

After hearing from several witnesses testifying for Jack, Pallenberg said he had to make a decision guided by law.

"I have heard and listened to what you have said," Pallenberg said. "It doesn't really add a lot to have the same people come up and say the same thing. This is more like a tribute banquet than a sentencing and it is not helpful to the process."

The victim's foster parent testified against Jack, saying the victim and the victim's sibling have been in counseling for 1 1/2 years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

"Nothing will replace what was stolen," the foster parent said. "(The victim's) childhood. The damage did not stop there."

Jack was arrested in February 2009, and was charged with four counts of first degree sexual abuse of a minor and three counts of second degree sexual abuse of a minor. He was tried twice: a jury in February 2010 could not reach a verdict, but a second empanelment found Jack guilty on all but one count, one of the first-degree abuse charges.

After court Tuesday, Kadinger criticized her brother's July trial.

"It was not a racially represented jury," she said. "This is 2010. It comes down to what is the price of justice. It was a big injustice for the Tlingit people not having any native people on the jury. The state will see that they will now lose willing Native foster parents because of this."

She said Jack hired an attorney for his first trial, but could not afford one for his second, where he was represented by a public defender. Kadinger said Jack plans to appeal.

• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at klas.stolpe@juneauempire.com.

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