Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:01 PM on Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Homer man indicted on 20 counts of sexual misconduct

Charges go back 17 years

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

Following an 18-month investigation by the Homer Police Department, the Kenai Grand Jury last Friday indicted a Homer man on 20 counts of sexual misconduct involving three alleged victims, all women related to each other.

Samuel Wise, 26, was charged with three counts of first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, two counts of second-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual abuse of a minor, all felonies, and 11 counts of fourth-degree sexual abuse of a minor, attempted fourth-degree sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree indecent exposure, all misdemeanors.

According to the indictment, some of the alleged incidents go back to 1995 through 2001, when the two alleged victims were between 5 and 12 years old and Wise was between 10 and 16. Later incidents were alleged to have happened between 2004 and 2005 when Wise was 19 or 20 and one alleged victim was 15 or 16. The most recent alleged crime was in 2008, shortly after one woman's 16th birthday and when Wise was 22. In that incident, the woman alleged that Wise sexually assaulted her.

Wise was charged and arrested in January 2011 for that alleged crime. Police started their investigation in November 2010 after the woman, then 18, went with a South Peninsula Haven House advocate to police. An interview with that woman led to two other women who alleged other sexual misconduct by Wise, said Homer Police Sgt. Lary Kuhns.

After being arrested last year, Wise was released on bail and remains on conditions of release, including not to contact the alleged victims.

"As soon as police found out about the allegations, they took steps to make sure the victims were safe," said Homer Police Chief Mark Robl.

In explaining why the alleged victims waited so long to talk to police, Kuhns said it's not uncommon for that to happen.

"That's often the case with victims," he said. "They reach a certain point where they feel secure."

Haven House interim director Jessica Lawmaster agreed.

"Sometimes victims of sexual assault and sexual abuse don't tell for many years," she said.

Sometimes they wait because of fears for their safety or emotional issues, she said — "just a feeling of readiness to tell."

"It's never too late to talk about what happened. It's never too late to tell and get support and services," Lawmaster said. "If something happened to you, it's OK to tell now, even if it's a lot later."

People who want to get support from Haven House can call its 24-hour Crisis Line at (907) 235-8943.

If the incidents when Wise and the alleged victims were juveniles had been reported then, the Office of Juvenile Justice would have responded. Because some of the charges are unclassified felonies, the earlier alleged crimes could be tacked on to the later charges.

Lawmaster said agencies working with sexual assault and abuse have made juvenile sexual misconduct a focus of concern, particularly on how to intervene earlier.

"There are services out there for them," she said of juvenile perpetrators. "The earlier the intervention takes place, the better. Unfortunately we don't always know about that from the beginning."

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.