Alaskans rally to send message to end sexual assault

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU)- Saturday morning, a crowd gathered outside the Boney Courthouse to send a message.

"Sexual assault and violence are not acceptable in Alaska anymore,"
Elizabeth Williams, one of the event organizers, said over a loudspeaker.

Williams said she became outraged after Superior Court Judge Michael Corey dismissed Justin Schneider's case of kidnapping and first-degree harassment. Schneider was sentenced to two years imprisonment with one year suspended, but will receive no jail time.

However, Jon Skidmore of the Alaska Dept. of Law, said in an interview last week that two of the people with the most say in this case did what they could according to the law.

"We had convicted of the highest offense possible, which is assault in the second degree," Skidmore said, "and the sentencing range was zero to two years."

Williams said the decision is still a 'free pass' for Schneider. Meanwhile, Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth also said little could be done given the way the laws are set up.

"Masturbating on somebody is not a sex crime," Lindemuth said in an interview last week. "(But) it needs to be treated as a sex crime with the higher sentencing penalties, two to 12 years, and the required sex offender treatment.

"We're going to change the definition of sexual contact to include unwanted contact with semen," she said.

During the rally Saturday, many Alaskans stepped forward to share their personal stories of sexual assault and rape.

Ada Coyle was in the crowd holding a sign that read: "Standing against rape and violence for indigenous women."

"It's as common as breathing," Coyle said. "It happens. I grew up on a small village on Kodiak Island and seeing the abuse of sexual abuse of rape."

Coyle said she is supporting other women so sexual abuse and assault ends in their family at their generation.

Stand Together Against Rape, a non-profit providing support and information to survivors of sexual violence, can be reached at (800) 478-8999 or by clicking here.

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