Politics & Government

Alaska Gov. Parnell wants aggressive prosecution for sexual assaults

Gov. Sean Parnell is pitching a new plan to combat a blight governors have long tried and failed to solve: Alaska's domestic violence problem and highest-in-America rate of sexual assault.

Parnell announced his proposals in Anchorage Thursday on a stage at Bartlett High School, with a wall of uniformed law enforcement officers arrayed on risers behind him.

"We are going to end the epidemic of domestic violence and sexual assault in this state within a decade," said Parnell, who took over as governor this year and is up for election next fall. "No longer will Alaska lead in that statistic."

Alaska's rate of sexual assault is two and a half times the national average, and children are sexually assaulted at six times the national average. Alaska ranks among the top five states for per-capita rates of domestic violence and the rate of Alaska women killed by a partner is 1.5 times the national average. Parnell's attorney general, Dan Sullivan, promised offenders will be aggressively prosecuted and shown no leniency.

"Those who might otherwise be tempted to abuse Alaska's women and children will come to realize that Alaska has turned into the last state in which you want to go on trial for domestic violence or sexual assault," Sullivan said.

The state will issue new guidelines for prosecutors to ensure no plea deals could allow convicts to avoid being on the sex offender registry, Sullivan said. The administration will also propose that the Legislature toughen penalties by giving harsher sentences to people who commit sexual assaults on victims who are passed out, Sullivan said.

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