North Pole man enters plea in sex abuse case

Posted: Friday, May 03, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- A North Pole man who faced multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor on charges he molested his daughter has reached a plea agreement in Superior Court and will not go to trial.

Steve R. Decker, 47, was arrested in November and indicted on two counts of first-degree and three counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. The indictment was based on allegations he molested the 8-year-old girl multiple times over 2 1/2 years.

Decker had been scheduled to go to trial next week before reaching a plea agreement Wednesday afternoon. He agreed to plead no contest to one reduced charge of attempted second-degree sexual abuse of a minor with the other charges dismissed. As part of the agreement, Decker faces a maximum of 30 months in prison.

According to the criminal complaint, the allegations came to light when a doctor examining the girl in September noticed suspicious injuries. The doctor alerted the child's mother as well as the Division of Family and Youth Services about the possibility of sexual abuse.

The girl was then interviewed by Alaska State Troopers, and she reportedly told them of several instances of sexual abuse beginning when she was about 5 years old.

District Attorney Terry Foster said the agreement, which represents a substantial decrease in the charges against Decker, was due to complications in the case.

''As the case developed and further investigation was done, the factual history of the case became so complicated to unravel that it became appropriate for both sides to compromise their legal positions,'' she said. ''The issue is, we have a very young child, and it's difficult sometimes to unravel a lengthy history with a young child.''

Decker's lawyer Bill Satterberg said he saw inconsistencies and gaps in the case against Decker.

''I think it would have been a very difficult case for the state to try,'' he said.

Satterberg also said Decker agreed to the deal in part because he wanted to avoid having to put his daughter through a potentially traumatizing jury trial.

Decker is in custody on $25,000 bail. He will be sentenced on July 5.

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