Judge clears felony charge in Rogers case

Despite receiving a guilty verdict several weeks earlier, Kenai Superior Court judge Anna Moran dropped one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, a class B felony, previously charged against Joe Rogers on Wednesday.

Rogers originally faced four charges of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor — or SAM2. Moran acquitted Rogers of three of those four SAM2 charges at the close of the state’s presented evidence following defense attorney Andy Pevehouse’s motion for judgment of acquittal.

The ruling on the final SAM2 charge has been cleared.

“The jury found Mr. Rogers guilty of the SAM2, but Judge Moran reviewed the testimony of (the victim) and found that she clearly stated she had never engaged in any act constituting ‘sexual contact’ under Alaska law,” Andy Pevehouse, defense attorney, said in an e-mail.

A motion for judgment of acquittal is generally granted if a judge reviews the state’s evidence and finds that no jurors could find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The judge is obligated by law to enter a verdict of not guilty, Pevehouse said.

“While some people may find it odd that a judge can overturn a jury verdict, the rule is designed to make sure that convictions are based on the actual evidence, not emotion,” he said in an e-mail.

In early October, Rogers was found guilty of seven of eight counts. They included one count of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, one count of second-degree attempted sexual abuse of a minor, four counts of first-degree indecent exposure and one count of coercion.

The trial continues, as four counts of indecent viewing of a photo, all class A misdemeanors, are still pending. A motion to dismiss those charges was filed Thursday.

District Attorney Scot Leaders could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Trial is set for the week of Dec. 5 at the Kenai courthouse.

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