Bill seeks to require jail time in cases similar to 2018 Justin Schneider assault

Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, prime sponsor of SB 12, participates in a discussion about the bill in the Senate Finance Committee on Monday. The bill would change the law regarding sexual assault, harassment, electronic monitoring and sentencing guidelines. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Senators are weighing a bill that would make a series of changes in response to an infamous case in Anchorage that involved sexual misconduct and physical assault but resulted in no time in prison.

Soldotna Republican Sen. Peter Micciche, the bill sponsor, said the measure would prevent a case like that of Justin Schneider from happening again.

“The public was — and most of us were — just so disturbed by the fact that that could occur today in this state, (which is) number one in the nation for sexual assaults,” he said.

Senate Bill 12 would include actions similar to Schneider’s as a sex crime, adding unwanted contact with certain bodily fluids as a crime, and it would require that people convicted of similar offenses register as sex offenders. The bill increases the penalty for knowingly causing another person to become unconscious by means which could include strangulation. It would no longer allow jail-time credit for for pretrial electronic monitoring for crimes against a person. It also would require formal consultation with victims on plea agreements.

In August 2017, Schneider drove a woman a short distance. After he stopped and she walked away, the woman reported to police that he tackled her and choked her to the point of unconsciousness before masturbating on her.

Schneider pleaded guilty to assault and served a year with electronic monitoring, without going to jail. Public outrage over the lack of jail time led to then-Judge Michael Corey losing his retention election.

Corey called in to testify in favor of the bill.

“I followed the law as it was, as I was required by my oath,” he said. “And quite frankly, I was crucified for it.”

The provision to end pretrial credit for electronic monitoring for some crimes would partially repeal a law the Legislature passed four years ago by wide margins.

Sterling resident Marie McConnell testified against this provision. She said people being monitored face significant restrictions and pay large fines.

“Ankle monitoring is a severe reduction in freedom and liberties,” she said. “It is a form of punishment. It’s like the adult version of being grounded as a kid, with costs.”

The Senate Finance Committee discussed the bill on Monday and will consider it again at a future meeting. The Senate Judiciary Committee has already advanced the measure.