Perkins fined over sexual harassment charge

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2001

JUNEAU (AP) -- Former Deputy Labor Commissioner Dwight Perkins was ordered Thursday to pay fines and restitution and perform 30 days of community service for making an unwanted sexual advance.

A prosecutor and the victim in the case described Perkins, who is also a former member of the Juneau Assembly, as a sex offender whose conduct has bordered on felonious.

District Judge Peter Froehlich imposed the maximum 90 days in jail for the misdemeanor harassment charge Perkins pleaded guilty to, but suspended 60 days of it, with the remaining 30 days to be performed as community service. Perkins pleaded guilty to the charge on Jan. 2.

He also fined Perkins $1,000, ordered him to pay up to $3,900 in restitution for his victim's counseling, and placed him on three years probation.

Froehlich made ongoing counseling a condition of Perkins probation and directed him to get an evaluation of whether he should be treated as a sex offender. Perkins acknowledged to the court that he has had boundary issues and will deal with them.

The case stemmed from an Oct. 1 incident in which Perkins fondled a woman's breast without her consent and told her he wanted to have sex with her. The victim, whose name would normally be confidential under state law, identified herself by making a courtroom statement before Perkins' sentencing.

''I pray that no one will ever again suffer by his actions,'' said Aleeza St. Clair, who added that as a top official at the state Department of Labor for several years, Perkins understood the impact of his actions.

St. Clair said the incident happened before a meeting of a 12-step recovery program. St. Clair said she had considered Perkins a friend but called him sexually sick.

District Attorney Rick Svobodny said Perkins was lucky to be charged with harassment instead of the felony charge of sexual assault in the second degree.

Svobodny also said sealed affidavits from four other women indicate Perkins engaged in similar conduct over at least four and a half years. Those incidents included Perkins taking a woman's hand and placing it on his crotch, forcing a woman into the corner of an elevator and running his hand along a woman's inner thigh during staff meetings.

Defense attorney Thomas Nave said authorities would have brought a more serious charge if they could have. Nave also said Perkins has had a difficult life, from molestation by an alcoholic stepfather to overcoming his own alcohol problem.

Froehlich said Perkins chances for rehabilitation, along with his previously clean record, were factors weighing against jail time.

Perkins had been named Gov. Tony Knowles' legislative director shortly before the charges were filed. He withdrew from that job and returned to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development as a special assistant to Commissioner Ed Flanagan, where he has performed many of the same duties he had as deputy commissioner.

Flanagan has said he would reevaluate Perkins' employment after a guilty plea. He did not return a telephone call from The Associated Press on Thursday.

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