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Story Last modified at 9:26 p.m. on Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Miller asks for leniency in child sex abuse case
Man at center of FOCUS scandal to change his plea

BY ZAZ HOLLANDER
Alaska Star

photo:News

Jacob J. Miller

A plea agreement is in the works for Jacob J. Miller, the 20-year-old Anchorage man accused of sexually assaulting two young children he met through his job with special-needs children in Eagle River.

But Miller is also asking an Anchorage Superior Court judge for "one chance to better myself and start over fresh," according to a hand-written letter he had delivered to Judge David Stewart.

Police say Miller "sexually touched" a 6-year-old and made that child and a 7-year-old sibling touch him. They said he came into contact with both alleged victims in August as a care provider with FOCUS, which stands for Family Outreach Center for Understanding Special Needs. The Eagle River nonprofit serves the developmentally disabled.

Miller, hired in June, cared for one of the children as part of his job, police and agency staff said. The other child was part of the same family, police said.

Miller originally fled to Oregon after the crime was discovered, Anchorage police said.

He was arrested Sept. 28 in the small Oregon town of Elgin on three counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and two counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

A change of plea hearing in the case is scheduled for March 4. The particulars of Miller's plea agreement were not available; generally, in such agreements, a prosecutor lets a defendant plead guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for a lighter sentence.

In the letter he wrote the judge, Miller asks Stewart to either sentence him to treatment or to a much lighter sentence than prosecutors apparently plan to offer as part of his plea deal – 15 years.

Miller's attorney, public defender Daniel Lowery, said he couldn't discuss the particulars of the case. The prosecutor's office couldn't be reached by press time.

The family's attorney said he expects the parents of the victims to attend Miller's hearing.

At an Anchorage Superior Court appearance on Jan. 11, Miller sat with his head down, saying something to himself, as his attorney read intently at the judge's bench after Stewart showed him the letter, written on both sides of a sheet of legal paper.

"Dear Judge, I'm writing you to let you know I'm sorry for my actions, and ask for forgiveness to take full responsibility for my actions and want to better myself," Miller wrote the judge. "This is my first time breaking the law and I wish it never happened. I have no priors and a good background."

He described his life as "a little rough growing up" with a father absent until recent computer contact and text messaging.

Miller told the judge that live-in treatment would be the best thing for him.

"I have heard that young people as myself who go to treatment rather than prison learn how to better themselves and have a lower rate of reoffending."

He also referred to himself as a sex offender, saying "sex crimes are bad and I round that out the hard way."

According to Miller's letter, the prosecutor in the case is offering a plea deal with 25 years, 10 of them suspended, so he would serve 15 years.

He said "that is a lot of time" for someone without prior arrests and his background. He also said the victim's family told him to seek treatment before his arrest and he would have but couldn't pay for it and wasn't on Medicaid.

He is relatively happy at the Anchorage Correctional Center, where he has a job and is coping with his depression, and hopes to stay there if he has to be incarcerated, he told the judge.

"Please your honor give me one chance, god says everyone deserves one chance no matter how bad their sin is," Miller wrote. "I'm very sorry this ever happened and wish it never did. If you can't give me that one chance, please give me something low. I would like to do months instead of years, if I have to do years how about 3 yrs with 2 yrs suspended and 25 yrs probation."



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, January 19, 2011.