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Plea entered in sexual assault case

Posted: Wednesday, May 11, 2011

A man accused of sexually assaulting the daughter of a family friend entered a guilty plea Tuesday to the charge of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.

Darren Silas, 26, was originally charged with five unclassified felony charges of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor for orally and digitally penetrating a girl under 13. Silas pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree under the condition that the other charges be dropped.

The plea agreement stipulates Silas be sentenced to 24 years in jail with 12 years suspended, which means he will only actively serve 12 years. He will also receive 10 years probation, and must pay restitution for the victim's counseling.

According to an affidavit submitted by Alaska State Trooper Toma Caldarea, the girl came forward in early 2009 to report the incidence of several sexual assaults during the summer of 2006. At the time of her report, she was residing in Nevada but had previously lived in Alaska.

The victim told an officer at the Sparks County Police Department in Nevada the man was Julian Lagwagoner, her father's friend. She said she was abused by the man seven to 13 times at her Soldotna home, sometimes when her parents were in another room and sometimes when they were out of the house.

Attempts to locate a man by the name of Julian Lagwagoner were unsuccessful, and it was later discovered through a chance encounter that the victim was mistaken about her abuser's name: when she returned to Alaska to visit her father in June 2009, the two attended the Moose Pass Summer Solstice Festival, where they spotted Silas. The victim told her father "Julian" made her uncomfortable, at which time she learned his name was indeed Darren Silas.

Once the mix-up was resolved, a Sparks County officer conducted an interview with the victim, who identified Silas in a photo line-up.

Caldarea contacted Silas and scheduled an interview. Silas admitted to sexually assaulting the victim, although he said it only occurred once. He confirmed he was 22 at the time of the incident, and he "knew she (the victim) was only 8 or 9 years old."

Silas also said he knew what he did was wrong and he had been "burdened with what he had done for a long time." He also said he was "relieved" to have everything out in the open.

The victim's mother appeared by telephone for Silas' change of plea, and her grandparents appeared in person.

When Judge Peter Ashman asked Silas if he wished to speak before accepting the change of plea, he declined.

Silas' sentencing hearing is scheduled for Aug. 5.

Karen Garcia can be reached at karen.garcia@peninsulaclarion.com



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