Homer teenage sexual assault trial faces delays due to Apple phones

Laurel Andrews

The trial of two Homer men and one juvenile charged with sexually assaulting a 17-year-old boy during a party in September 2012 is running into delays due to technology giant Apple Inc., the parties stated on Monday.

During a hearing Monday afternoon in Kenai Superior Court, the prosecution and defense both stated that the discovery process -- in which the parties obtain evidence in the case -- on Apple cellphones has not yet begun due to Apple’s delay in processing the phones that may have information relevant to the case.

Three people -- Anthony Resetarits, who will turn 22 this week, Joseph Resetarits, 19, and an unnamed juvenile boy -- have been charged with sexually assaulting a drunk teenage boy with an object in September 2012 after the teen passed out on a couch during a large party in Homer.

According to charging documents, after the boy passed out, Anthony Resetarits shaved an “M” in the boy’s hair, and other people at the party wrote on his body with markers. Afterwards, people at the party shouted out suggestions as to what to do next. An unidentified person suggested an obscene act. Anthony Resetarits then allegedly sexually assaulted the boy with an object, with Joseph Resetarits also participating, charging documents state.

Many people at the party -- estimated attendance was between 60 and 80 people -- witnessed the alleged assault, and some were photographing parts of it. Troopers recovered multiple photographs taken at the party, including one of two men sexually assaulting the boy. One witness said she watched a video of the head-shaving incident on a friend’s cell phone.

On Monday, Anthony Resetarits’ attorney Phillip Weidner stated that during the last hearing, he was told that discovery on the Apple phones possibly containing evidence would have begun by now. It will still be a “matter of months” before the cellphone discovery is completed, he said.

Weidner told Kenai Superior Court Judge Carl Bauman that the current trial date, set for early June, is not realistic.

Assistant District Attorney Kelly Lawson said that while discovery has begun on a non-Apple phone belonging to Joseph Resetarits, the Apple phones were a different matter.

To get the information off of Apple phones, law enforcement makes an application to the company, she said. Apple, not wanting to be overloaded with too many phones at once, then lets law enforcement know when it’s ready to receive the phone. “Apple has not requested they be sent in yet,” Lawson said.

Bauman called Apple’s proprietary limited access “very much a problem.” Bauman said he would issue an order “encouraging Apple to advance” on the discovery process.

Shaun Sehl with the Alaska Office of Victims’ Rights spoke on behalf of the victim. “This case has been in this quandary for far too long so anything the court can do to persuade the parties to file motions sooner rather than later" would be of benefit to the victim, she said.

The trial date remained scheduled for the first week of June, but parties stated they will likely need to reschedule for later in the year.