Aker sentenced in sexual abuse case
By Dennis K. Brown
April 19, 2016
|The Lewis County HeraldAker is flanked by his attorneys, Tom Raisbeck and Dan Dickerson, as he stands before Judge Robert Conley. Commonwealth’s Attorney Mel Leonhart is on the right.|
Photo by Dennis K. Brown
LEWIS COUNTY, Kentucky - Former Greensburg minister Duncan D. Aker Jr. was sentenced in Lewis (Kentucky) Circuit Court Friday to one year in jail on five counts of first degree sexual abuse.
Aker pleaded guilty to five counts of first degree sexual abuse on March 4 as part of a plea agreement in which charges of four counts of first degree sodomy were dropped.
Under the terms of the agreement, Aker, 64, will serve a year in jail (with credit for time served) and then be on probation for five years. He will also have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life and complete a sex offender treatment program.
With time served, that will make him eligible for release about May 3.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Mel Leonhart talked about his decision to enter a plea agreement with Aker.
“The victim and his mother came to my office and emphatically recommended for me to not take this to trial because they felt like it would cause further psychological harm to the victim with the trauma of going through a trial,” Leonhart said after the sentencing hearing.
He added the victim’s psychologist also recommended the case not go to trial.
“Otherwise, I would not have made this offer to this man,” Leonhart said.
“I would have preferred to take him to trial and let a jury determine what to do with him,” Leonhart said of Aker. “I’m just trying to honor what the victim had requested.”
Leonhart explained the plea offer after Aker entered his plea of guilty.
“An offer was made at the insistence of the victim and his mother,” Leonhart said after the March 4 hearing.
“It was their wish to dismiss the sodomy charges and get a conviction on the sexual abuse charges in order to save the victim the trauma of going through a jury trial,” he said.
“I always like to honor the wishes of the victim whenever possible,” Leonhart added.
“I think a key factor for the victim was to have the defendant register as a sex offender and admit guilt, rather than a longer prison sentence,” he added.
Aker was flanked by his attorneys, Dan Dickerson and Tom Raisbeck, as he stood before Judge Robert Conley and answered questions about his plea.
Conley said the plea was amended slightly from the plea entered on March 4.
“This amends the offer that you’ve already pled guilty to, correct?” Conley asked.
“Yes, your honor,” Aker replied.
“This is a better deal than what you pled on earlier, right?” Conley asked.
“I believe so, your honor,” Aker replied.
“When I say it’s a better deal, it lowers your class of felonies from a C to a D but the penalty is going to be the same thing that you agreed upon earlier. Correct?” Conley asked.
Aker affirmed the statement.
Conley went through a line of questioning concerning the plea similar to the one administered by Judge Frank A. Fletcher who was sitting in for Conley on March 4.
Conley read the charges against Aker before those in the courtroom.
“You’re charged with five counts of sexual abuse, first degree, class D felonies. How do you plead to that?” Conley asked.
“Guilty, your honor,” Aker replied.
“Do you understand the nature and the consequences of these amended charges that you’re pleading to?” Conley asked.
“Yes, your honor, I do,” Aker said.
“Do you understand by entering this plea you’re asking me to fix your sentence rather than a jury?” Conley asked.
“Yes, your honor. I understand,” Aker replied.
“Do you understand the factual allegations the Commonwealth has made against you in regard to these counts that you have pleaded guilty to?” Conley asked.
“Yes, I do,” Aker replied.
“When you tell me you are pleading guilty you are telling me that you did, in fact, do what they say you did,” Conley said.
“Yes, your honor,” Aker stated.
“Do you know that I could sentence you to one to five years on each of these counts you’re pleading guilty to?” Conley asked.
“Yes, your honor. I understand,” Aker replied.
“Is this plea being entered by your own free will?” Conley asked.
“Yes,” Aker replied.
“I’m going to ask you to tell me, in your own words, what it is that you did that led to these charges,” Conley said.
“I had inappropriate contact with a young boy,” Aker said.
When Conley asked for clarification Aker replied the contact was sexual in nature.
“Inappropriate sexual contact with a boy, underage?” Conley asked.
“Judge, this is over 12,” replied Dickerson.
“At least on five occasions. Is that correct?” Conley asked.
“Yes,” Aker replied.
“Alright, Mr. Aker. Technically you’re entitled to have a separate sentencing date and an updated PSI (pre-sentence investigative report). Are you waiving that and want to be sentenced today?” Conley asked.
“We’re waiving that, your honor,” Dickerson replied.
“I need to hear him say it,” Conley stated.
“Yes, your honor. We’re waiving that,” Aker said.
Leonhart stated he would like it to be on the record that the deal was made “at the behest of the victim and the victim’s mother.”
“Even though it’s in the documents, I want to put it on the record that he is required to register as a sex offender and is required to complete the sex offender treatment program,” Leonhart added.
“He is sentenced to a total of 10 years, serve one year, balance probated for five. Is that right?” Conley asked.
“Yes, your honor. With credit for time served,” Dickerson replied.
Aker, who was most recently living in Greensburg, was arrested in May 2015 on a nine count grand jury indictment.
Aker was originally charged by a Lewis County Grand Jury with four counts of first degree sodomy of a victim less than 12 years of age (class A felony) and five counts of first degree sexual abuse of a victim less than 12 years of age (class C felony).
Aker was arrested on a warrant by members of the Greensburg Police Department on May 3, 2015. He later waived extradition to Kentucky.
The nine count grand jury indictment charged that on or about the period between October 1, 2007, and March 1, 2010, Aker allegedly engaged in deviate sexual intercourse with a person less than 12 years of age through the use of forcible compulsion, and allegedly subjected the person to sexual contact by forcible compulsion and/or while the person was incapable of consent because the person was less than 12 years of age, at various locations.
The Kentucky locations named in the indictment include in a motor vehicle on and/or alongside of the AA Highway, in the defendant’s residence, in the church where the defendant was the minister, and in the defendant’s outbuilding.
Aker was the minister at Vanceburg (Kentucky) Christian Church between 2006 and 2011 and was most recently listed as a minister for Greensburg Christian Church.
Kentucky State Police Spokesman Joe Veeneman said Aker was minister at the Vanceburg Christian Church during the time the alleged incidents occurred.
Veeneman said the four month investigation was led by Trooper Thurman Paige of the Morehead Post of the Kentucky State Police.
Aker remains lodged in the Lewis County (Kentucky) Detention Center.
Reprinted with permission from The Lewis County Herald.