Bail reassessed in 2014 sexual assault case

Bail conditions are being reviewed for a Sterling woman accused of sexually assaulting a minor in 2014.

Laurel Lee, 52, was charged with first-degree sexual assault, kidnapping and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor on Oct. 1, 2014. Alaska State Troopers allege that she pulled a 14-year-old boy off his bicycle near the Sterling Highway, took him into the woods and sexually assaulted him.

In a bail hearing at the Kenai Courthouse Tuesday, Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lawson said the state has received information that Lee had crossed the Moose River Bridge in Sterling, which took her out of the zone she is allowed in, and that she was reported to have been drinking.

Lawson said the drinking allegation was reported to Alaska State Troopers. However, troopers were unable to respond to where Lee is living in Sterling until the next day, and no tests were done on the night Lee was reported to confirm that she was under the influence of alcohol. For these reasons, Lawson said the state is not filing a charge of violating conditions of release, and is not seeking to have Lee put back in jail. Lawson did, however, request that Lee’s bail conditions be strengthened by adding money to her existing bail amount and a return to using SCRAM, a system used to monitor alcohol use. Joshua Traini from the Office of Public Advocacy in Anchorage filled in over the phone for Lee’s defense lawyer, DinaMarie Cale. He opposed the tightening Lee’s conditions.

“What we have here is a long history of good behavior on bail,” Traini said.

It was suggested that Lee be given a two-hour window once a week to cross the Moose River Bridge to get to the post office in Sterling, which she uses. Taylor Winston from the Alaska Office of Victim’s Rights appeared at the hearing telephonically. She and Lawson said that arrangement would conflict with the wishes of the alleged victim’s family, who were physically present at the hearing.

“Their concern is they live in the general area but they use that post office,” Lawson said.

Another option suggested was that Lee submit to twice-a-day alcohol testing in Kenai in leu of using SCRAM. However, Kim Kavanaugh, with whom Lee is living, said a twice-daily trip from Sterling to Kenai would not be sustainable in the long run. Lee said at the hearing that she does not drive herself.

Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman concluded that twice-a-day testing would end up costing about the same as the SCRAM system once the cost of fuel was factored in. He advised Traini that he wants to give Lee input as to which option is used. Traini asked for the hearing be continued on Wednesday so that he could speak privately with Lee about the situation.

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

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