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Munoz retracts letters supporting leniency for sexual abuser, convicted mother

  • Author: Nathaniel Herz
  • Updated: August 31, 2016
  • Published August 30, 2016

Juneau Republican Rep. Cathy Muñoz wants to retract a pair of letters she wrote seeking lenient sentences for people convicted of sexual abuse and child endangerment.

Muñoz, in a statement on her campaign website, apologized for the letters and said she had contacted the state court system and asked they be "removed from the record."

In her statement, Muñoz said she unintentionally caused pain to victims of sexual abuse, and said she's been accused at times of being "too compassionate."

"My mistake was not being more sensitive to the victims in these particular cases," she said in a phone interview Tuesday. "This has created a learning experience that's going to change my life around these issues."

Muñoz's letters were written on behalf of Thomas Jack Jr. and Mary Chessica Hauge.

Jack is facing a 40-year sentence for abusing an 11-year-old girl; Hauge was convicted of child endangerment after she allowed her husband, a convicted sex offender, access to girls he raped and used to make child pornography. She was sentenced to 30 months in prison.

Reports of Muñoz's letters ignited a firestorm of criticism, including a recent opinion piece from Justin Parish, her Democratic challenger in the November election.

In her statement, Muñoz said the letters — and her work on broader criminal justice issues surrounding them — have "been politicized without all of the facts and context under which the actions were taken."

"Moreover, the media storm surrounding my error in judgment is only perpetuating the hurt of those victims trying to move on to rebuild their lives," she wrote.

Muñoz said by phone she was still moving "full steam ahead" with her re-election campaign, and has "gotten a lot of support in the community."

"This has also kind of galvanized a lot of people to come forward and thank me for my courage," she said.

But Muñoz added that she's going to be more cautious about getting involved with cases that involve sexual abuse. Such situations, she said, present themselves to lawmakers on a regular basis.

"I'm just going to be very careful in making sure that I reach out and understand all perspectives," she said. "Not just the perspective of the person that I'm trying to help."

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