Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:52 PM on Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Man arrested for sexual assault; suspect says he was beaten



BY MICHAEL ARMSTRONG
STAFF WRITER

A Homer man arrested on sexual assault charges last week has alleged he himself was the victim of a physical assault. Homer Police about 9:30 a.m. April 18 arrested Brian N. Gauthier, 21, at his East End Road home. Before his arrest, Gauthier reported to police that he had been beaten on April 9 near Wells Fargo Bank on the Sterling Highway.

Gauthier is at Wildwood Pre-trial Facility, Kenai, and has been charged with first-degree sexual assault and second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

A suspect has been identified in the alleged assault on Gauthier, but the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made, said Homer Police Sgt. Lary Kuhns. Kuhns said the beating is believed to be linked to the sexual assault charges.

Police learned of the alleged assault on April 6 after the girl told a health-care provider and the provider told police.

According to an affidavit and criminal complaint, Kuhns alleged that in mid-February Gauthier met a 13-year-old girl about 9:30 p.m. at the Midtown Café, a teen center on Pioneer Avenue next to the Refuge Chapel and run by the church.

Jessica Lawmaster, a forensic interviewer with the Child Advocacy Center, interviewed the girl at the center's room at South Peninsula Haven House. Such interviews are taped, said Haven House Director Peg Coleman. The Child Advocacy Center offers a neutral setting where alleged victims can be interviewed, she said.

Police praised Lawmaster for being able to get information useful to their investigation from the girl.

"We wouldn't have made this case without Jessica," Homer Police Chief Mark Robl said.

In the interview, the girl alleged that Gauthier approached her at the café. He asked her to sit on his lap and then started kissing and licking her face. The girl said she told Gauthier she was 13. She alleged he pushed her outside to the west side of the café out of public view and kissed her and exposed himself. The girl said she told him to stop and went back inside.

Later, the girl began walking home. She alleged Gauthier followed her and caught up with her in a parking area behind a business just east of Midtown Café. She said he kissed her again, removed her pants and exposed himself. She said he told him repeatedly to stop. The girl alleged he continued and started intercourse. Gauthier stopped when a friend of the girl walked by, Kuhns alleged.

Police got a telephonic search warrant and recorded a conversation on April 14 between the girl and Gauthier. Kuhns alleged that Gauthier denied any sexual contact. The girl told Gauthier she had saved her underwear. Kuhns alleged Gauthier said, "I was really f---ed up and I did something stupid." Kuhn also alleged in the conversation that Gauthier asked the girl to wash or throw away the underwear. Gauthier said he was impaired but was now clean and sober, Kuhns alleged.

Haven House has a 24-hour confidential crisis help line, 235-8943, that anyone can call if they believe they have been victims of sexual assault or sexual abuse. Haven House also provides counseling for sexual assault or sexual abuse victims long after the event happened, Coleman said. It also offers workshops to teach teenagers about the issues of sexual assault and sexual abuse.

"Our job is to support the victim," Coleman said. "Police and the criminal justice system hold them (the perpetrators) accountable."

Pastor Darren Williams of Refuge Chapel said Midtown Café is supposed to be a safe place for teenagers. It usually has two or three adult supervisors on the premises.

"We really try to keep it clean," Williams said. "It's supposed to be a Christian environment."

First-degree sexual assault is an unclassified felony punishable by up to 99 years in prison. Second-degree sexual abuse of a minor — sexual contact between a person over 18 and a person 13, 14 or 15 years old — is a class B felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison.

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

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