Bail altered for woman accused of sexual assault

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to remove potentially identifying information about the alleged victim.

Bail conditions have been strengthened for a Sterling woman accused of the 2014 sexual assault of a minor.

In a Wednesday hearing continued from Tuesday, Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman had the defendant, Laurel Lee, put on a 24/7 alcohol testing program, in which she will submit to twice daily testing in Kenai. The change comes after the prosecution alleged Lee had violated her conditions of release by crossing to the north side of the Moose River Bridge in Sterling — into an area she is restricted from — and by consuming alcohol.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lawson said Tuesday that Alaska State Troopers were not able to respond to where Lee is living in Sterling until the day after she was reported to have been drinking, so no test was ever done to confirm that. The state is not filing a charge of violating conditions of release and Lee will not be remanded to jail.

“I’ve got no evidence that the defendant did in fact consume alcohol, but enough concern to enforce the 24/7 program,” Bauman said at the hearing.

Lee was charged in 2014 with first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. Alaska State Troopers say she pulled a 14-year-old boy off his bicycle near the Sterling Highway, took him into the woods and sexually assaulted him.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Lee’s defense attorney, DinaMarie Cale, appeared at the hearing over the phone and said Lee had opted to go with the twice daily testing in leu of being put back on a SCRAM system, a more expensive and home-based technology for measuring alcohol use.

Bauman noted that, due to the current state budget crises, Lee will have to pay for the daily testing that, in the past, she would have qualified to receive free of charge.

Lee was also granted a two-hour window once a week to cross to the north side of Moose River Bridge in order retrieve her mail from the post office in Sterling.

Family members of the alleged victim were present at the hearing, and one of them made a statement to the court.

The minor’s grandmother and adopted mother expressed concern about Lee being allowed to access the post office, as she said it is a school bus drop off site for the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District.

One of Lee’s conditions of release is that she can have no contact with a minor, but Bauman clarified that it should not apply to minors who are relatives.

The boy’s grandmother also expressed the family’s wish to have the case resolved.

“I beg the court to please give us some peace and closure,” she said.

In the past, Lee has also expressed her wish to get to trial quickly.

Kidnapping and sexual assault in the first degree are both unclassified felonies. They each carry a punishment of 20 to 99 years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000. If convicted of the charge of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor — a class B felony — Lee faces up to 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $100,000.

Lee is set to go to trial in April.

 

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

 

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