Trial pushed back for woman accused of sexual assault

The trial for a Sterling woman accused of sexually assaulting a minor has been delayed to accommodate attorney schedules and the sharing of information.

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

At her trial call at the Kenai Courthouse on Wednesday, Lee’s trial week was pushed back to Jan. 19 to allow for the transfer of Office of Children Services records to all the parties that need them. Lee’s defense attorney, DinaMarie Cale, also said she needs more time to get the results of independent DNA tests the defense is conducting.

One item being tested is a swab sample, and “there are black pants that belonged to Laurel Lee that are being tested,” Cale said.

Lee, Cale and Taylor Winston from the Alaska Office of Victim’s Rights appeared at the hearing over the phone, while District Attorney Scot Leaders appeared in the place of Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lawson, who he said is on leave.

Winston did not oppose pushing the trial back, though she said the boy’s family is “anxious for closure.”

Lee’s status hearing originally scheduled for Oct. 20 has been delayed to Nov. 25. Lawson now has until Oct. 30 to decide whether to proceed with the case.

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.

If convicted, she would be required to register as a sex offender.

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

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