A Soldotna man was given a 34-month prison sentence Wednesday in superior court for sexually abusing a girl he had taken in as a foster child.
Dustin L. Poole, 38, pleaded guilty in January to touching a 13-year-old girl above her clothes in the chest area on New Year's Eve 2007. He was convicted on one class C felony count of sexual abuse of a minor.
The sentence, delivered by Judge Carl Bauman on Wednesday, carries a five-year probation period, which includes a number of restrictions. The sentence also requires Poole register as a sex offender for 15 years.
"It's a tsunami," Bauman said on the effect the sentence could have on Poole's life. "My concern is that this is broader than just the single incident on the single occasion."
Police investigation, included in court records, says Poole touched the 13-year-old girl while she slept on multiple occasions. Records also indicate Poole admitted to placing a hidden camera inside the girl's clothes hamper and to filming her while she showered and used the bathroom. This happened at least four times, according to police reports.
However, Poole only pleaded guilty to touching the girl in the single incident.
"We're dealing with a person who was a foster parent who went off the rocker one night, one New Year's Eve," defense attorney Arthur Robinson said. "Though criminal, the act was isolated. It's not something that is in his character."
At Wednesday's sentencing, Poole said he was sorry.
"I know I done wrong. I hurt so many people. I just want to apologize," he said in a raspy voice, fighting tears.
The victim, who was present in the courtroom, declined an opportunity to make a statement. Bauman said the sentence was meant to provide justice.
"The total impact of the sentence here is heavy and appropriate," he said.
Many people, including Poole's family members, came to the courtroom in support of Poole. Bauman read letters from people who wanted to comment on behalf of Poole's character. In one of the letters the writer claimed the situation "leaves them scratching their head as to how this could even happen." Other letters, written by parents, explained they continue to trust Poole around their children.
However, Bauman reasoned, a 13-year-old foster daughter caught Poole's eye and Poole didn't look away.
"The message of the community has to be, no, you just can't act upon that," Bauman said.
Andrew Waite can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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