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Anchorage 19-year-old accused of New Year's Day rape agrees to plea deal

Jerzy Shedlock

A 19-year-old man who would have faced numerous felonies at trial for allegedly raping a teenage girl near train tracks in South Anchorage after beating her and restraining her with duct tape now faces a single first-degree sexual assault charge due to a plea deal.

Jessye Potts originally faced four felony counts of first-degree sexual assault in what police said was a surprise attack, as well as a felony assault charge and a misdemeanor assault charge. He initially was also charged with kidnapping, but the state dropped that charge.

Potts has agreed to plead guilty to the single charge, though he could get a longer sentence than generally imposed under state law if the court finds aggravators, or circumstances that made the offense more severe.

Potts faces 20 to 30 years in prison and a maximum aggravated sentence of 99 years, said Anchorage District Attorney Sharon Marshall. The court may also impose a fine of up to $500,000, she said.

According to the charging document , the victim told detectives she met up with Potts, a friend who had texted her, about 3:15 p.m. New Year's Day. The charges do not say the age of the victim, but police said she was 17.

She knew Potts, 18 at the time, and agreed to go on a walk with him, starting at the place where he was staying. At some point they went to Johns Park in the city's Oceanview neighborhood, not far from railroad tracks that run along Turnagain Arm.

Resting atop a hill near the tracks, the girl commented it was getting late and dark. Potts allegedly ignored her and said something like, "Sometimes crazy things pop into my head." She took a brief phone call from her mother, assuring her she'd be home, before Potts began his assault, the charges say.

Potts allegedly struck the girl repeatedly before he bound her hands and mouth with duct tape, pushed her face into the snow and raped her, the charges say. The victim later told police she thought Potts was trying to suffocate her, and the state's felony assault charge alleged the same.

Police say Potts walked away but returned, released the girl from the restraints and fled. She reached a nearby home and called 911. Potts was arrested that night, and police commended the victim for reporting the rape as quickly as possible.

"The defendant agrees to admit the conduct alleged in the original charging document ... and will not contest the factual statements in that charging document," the state's plea agreement says.

Potts' bail was set at $1 million at his initial court appearance, but the guilty plea means he can no longer pay for temporary release.

As part of the plea deal, Potts is required to register as a sex offender for life.


By Jerzy Shedlock
jerzy@alaskadispatch.com