Judge Gives 'Pass' for Man Who Strangled, Sexually Assaulted Woman

Anchorage Superior Court
Judge Michael Corey, of Anchorage Superior Court, faces calls for a vote against his retention after he allowed a man accused of sexual assault to serve no jail time. Google Maps

A judge in Alaska is facing backlash after he released a man with no jail time after he pleaded guilty to assaulting a woman. Justin Schneider, from Anchorage, was accused of kidnapping an Alaskan Native woman on August 15, 2017.

The victim told police that 34-year-old Schneider offered her a ride from a gas station in Anchorage to Muldoon, Alaska. Schneider introduced himself as "Dan" and said he knew the victim, but she denied ever having met him, APD Detective Brett Sarber wrote in the criminal complaint.

Instead of driving to Muldoon, Schneider drove in a different direction, parked his SUV and asked the victim to get out. Schneider then tackled her and told her he was going kill her.

"She said she could not fight him off, he was too heavy and had her down being choked to death," Sarber wrote. "[The victim] said she lost consciousness, thinking she was going to die."

Schneider reportedly strangled her until she was unconscious and then masturbated on her, according to court documents. When she woke up, he told her he was not going to kill her but needed her to believe she would die "so that he could be sexually fulfilled."

He was charged with four felony counts. However, a plea deal between his defense team and the state allowed him to plead guilty to one felony assault and get no jail time, with credit for time served and probation.

"But I would like the gentleman to be on notice that this is his one pass," state prosecutor Andrew Grannik said in court on Wednesday, according to KTVA. "It's not really a pass, but given the conduct, one might consider that it is."

Judge Michael Corey accepted the plea deal, citing the possibility of rehabilitation. "This can never happen again," Corey reportedly told Schneider.

The judge's decision and Grannik's remarks were criticized as unfair. The sentencing also got the attention of Alaska's governor, Bill Walker.

"This gesture by the DA and the judge is absolutely obscene," Keeley Olson, executive director of Standing Together Against Rape (STAR), told the Anchorage Daily News.

Corey's decision also prompted a Facebook campaign calling for a vote against his retention as a judge on the November 6 ballot. Elizabeth Williams, who worked with STAR for five years, told the newspaper she created the Facebook page to highlight Alaska's epidemic of sexual assault.

"This is another example of an Alaska Native woman not getting the justice they deserve," Williams said.

Governor Walker used the sentencing to push for tougher sexual assault laws.

"Every victim deserves justice. This sort of outcome makes it even more difficult for victims to come forward. The punishment in this case in no way matched the severity of the crime," Walker said in a statement on Friday. "We must fix this problem immediately, and we will."

The Alaska Department of Law backed Corey's decision and said the judge followed the law in issuing his sentence.