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Alaska Gov. Walker rescinds judicial appointment over statements in sexual assault case

JUNEAU — Alaska Gov. Bill Walker rescinded a judicial appointment for a Juneau defense attorney after reading her comments in an old legal brief.

Walker initially chose attorney Julie Willoughby to fill the Juneau Superior Court vacancy, but he later selected municipal attorney Amy Mead, the Juneau Empire reported.

Scott Kendall, the governor's chief of staff, said Walker told Willoughby she had the job but then called back two hours later saying he was going with a different candidate. Between the two calls, a staff member showed the governor a legal brief that Willoughby had filed a few years prior on a criminal case involving child sex abuse.

Willoughby had argued in the brief that a man's sexual assaults against a 12-year-old girl were a "mutually satisfying sexual adventure" and did not harm the child, Kendall said. The attorney's brief also said the victim had "solicited" the assaults and that a 12-year-old could consent to sex with an adult.

"Each of these statements is disturbing individually," Kendall said in a statement. "Collectively, these arguments shocked the conscience of Governor Walker and his advisers.

"The governor understands that criminal defense attorneys must be zealous advocates. In fact, he has previously appointed defense attorneys to judgeships, including to the Alaska Supreme Court. However, an attorney can be zealous without attacking a child victim and misstating statutory rape laws."

Willoughby did not respond to the newspaper's phone call seeking comment.

The Alaska Judicial Council selected Mead and Willoughby as finalists in May from a pool of seven applicants. Willoughby had scored higher on a survey the council sent to members of the Alaska Bar Association.

The governor's office informed Mead of the appointment Saturday.

"As you can imagine, it was a very exciting call for me," Mead said. "I was very honored."

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