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Outrage Brews Over Controversial Sentence in Alaska

Man accused of choking woman and masturbating on her gets no jail time
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 25, 2018 9:20 AM CDT
In this Aug. 17, 2017, photo, Justin Schneider appears in Anchorage district court.   (Kirsten Swann/Anchorage Daily News via AP)

(Newser) – It would likely have been a no-brainer: Voters in Alaska will decide in November whether a well-regarded judge will remain on Anchorage Superior Court. But now a controversial case has thrown that into doubt, and a "NO retention for Judge Michael Corey" Facebook page has more than 3,000 likes in its first days. As KTUU reports, the case involves 34-year-old Justin Schneider, who police said offered a 25-year-old woman a ride in his vehicle, choked her into unconsciousness, and masturbated on her. Corey accepted a plea deal in which Schneider got no jail time—he admitted to assault charges, other charges of kidnapping and harassment were dropped, and he received credit for a year under house arrest. "I was just absolutely appalled," says Elizabeth Williams, the woman who created the Facebook page, per CBS News.

Williams and other critics also fault Assistant District Attorney Andrew Grannik for agreeing to the plea, which he referred to in court as Schneider's "one pass." They also say the victim, a Native woman who immediately notified police, was given scant consideration. As the outrage grows, the Washington Post notes that state officials say the judge and ADA were hamstrung by current law. For example, the state doesn't include semen in its criteria for sexual assault, so only harassment charges were filed. And the serious kidnapping charge would have been tough to prove given that the woman entered his vehicle willingly. The judge wanted Schneider to undergo sex-offender treatment, and the plea deal was the only way to ensure that, says a state deputy attorney general. Lawmakers now say they want to toughen state laws in the wake of the controversy. (Read more Alaska stories.)

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