Jury selection begins for officer accused of sexual assault

Anthony Rollins appears in court at start of his trial.

January 18, 2011 


A suspended Anchorage police officer accused of 14 counts of sexual assault appeared Tuesday at the start of his trial, which is set to fill a downtown courtroom for several weeks.

Anthony Rollins, 43, is also charged with six counts of official misconduct for misusing his position as a law enforcement officer, a job Rollins held for 13 years.

He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

According to court documents, the first assault happened in March 2006 and the last occurred in April 2009, the month the Anchorage Police Department suspended Rollins.

Three months later, the police department went public. Rob Heun, who then was police chief, announced the suspension and said an investigation had found that Rollins either raped, inappropriately touched or otherwise forced sex acts on a total of six women while on duty.

"I'm personally proud to wear this uniform," Heun said his July 2009 press conference, pinching his dark-blue, department-issue tie. "I'm appalled that this officer might have dishonored it."

Opening arguments are expected within a week, after a jury is impaneled.

Judge Philip Volland and members of the prosecution and defense teams began working through a stack of juror questionnaires Tuesday. They looked for signs in each potential juror's answers that any of the men or women might have problems being impartial. Several also had scheduling issues.

Once the pool of jurors is narrowed, each side will be allowed 45 minutes to question them one by one, Volland said. The judge gave prosecutors 12 peremptory challenges, meaning they can excuse up to 12 jurors without explaining why.

Volland gave the defense 14 passes on jurors. He said Rollins' attorneys could have a more difficult time finding impartial jurors due to Rollins' history as a police officer, the nature of the charges and the number of charges.

The trial is being held at the Boney Memorial Courthouse downtown instead of the Nesbett Courthouse to accommodate a greater number of people, including victims and their associates, members of the media and other onlookers.

Find Casey Grove online at adn.com/contact/casey.grove or call him at 257-4589.

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