Schneider loophole bill gets final legislative approval
The Schneider loophole is nearly closed.
The House cast the final vote on House Bill 14, approving changes the Senate supported with a unanimous vote on Wednesday.
The bill stems from Justin Schneider’s brazen assault on a woman in 2017. Schneider was originally charged with four felonies and a misdemeanor connected to allegations of kidnapping, strangulation and masturbating on the woman.
Last August, almost a year after the charges, Schneider struck a plea deal to assault and never served time.
The deal produced community-wide outrage, cost Superior Court Judge Michael Corey his job and set statutory change in motion.
House Rep. John Lincoln, D-Kotzebue, and Sen. Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, advanced their bills through their respective chambers.
A compromise was worked into HB 14, which the House approved 32-1 one day after the Senate unanimously agreed.
“What the bill did is it says we’ve had enough,” Micciche said in an interview. “For sexual offenders of this nature in the state of Alaska, you are going to jail.”
Some of the bill’s features include:
- Defines strangulation to unconsciousness as a first-degree assault charge;
- Removes electronic monitoring sentencing credit to those convicted for crimes against a person;
- Requires prosecuting attorney to confer with victim;
- Defines knowingly causing a victim to come in contact with semen as sexual contact.
“I thank everyone who supported this legislation, but most of all, I acknowledge the woman who survived the tragic incident that made the public aware that a troubling legal loophole exists,” Lincoln said in a prepared statement. “Because of the increased awareness and outpouring from Alaskans, victims of similar crimes will receive the justice they deserve from now on.”
Micciche also noted the victim’s courage.
“This woman rose from the ashes of a violent sexual assault and made a difference,” he said. “She brought this to the forefront. We passed the bill. It will be signed into law and Alaskans will forever be safer because of her bravery and her courage to go against the system that in her case did not deliver and appropriate result.”
The bill still needs Gov. Mike Dunleavy’s signature. His crime bills — SB 35 and HB 52 — addressed this case as well, but Dunleavy’s efforts for sweeping change are being handled in HB 49.
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