Thursday, February 27, 2014
WALLA WALLA — John P. Junke Sr., a former local District Court judge, has about two months more to serve in the Walla Walla County Jail for possessing Internet child pornography on his computer devices late last summer.
Plus, he must successfully complete three years of outpatient sex-offender treatment and register as a sex offender for 15 years.
Such was Junke’s sentence imposed Wednesday afternoon by visiting Superior Court Judge David Frazier from Whitman County.
It is an alternative one, in lieu of the standard range of about 6 ½ to 8 ½ years in prison, and is allowed by state law for offenders who are amenable to treatment.
Technically, Frazier handed Junke a six-year, eight-month suspended prison term, which he will have to serve if he violates any of a number of conditions and restrictions.
Then Frazier imposed 120 days in the County Jail, gave Junke credit for the 21 days he’s spent since his guilty pleas earlier this month, and converted the last 30 days to 240 hours of community service.
The upshot is he’ll have to serve 69 more days in jail, but can be released for work — if he finds employment — and sex-offender treatment sessions.
The jail time also will be served in several blocks to allow Junke to continue collecting Social Security benefits he needs for treatment payments, court costs and fees, and living expenses.
Under the treatment-based sentence, Junke could have been ordered to spend up to a year in jail.
Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Joe Golden, investigating Walla Walla police Detective Mike Boettcher and a presentence investigation report prepared by the state Department of Corrections all recommended no additional jail time.
A psychosexual evaluation concluded Junke is amenable to treatment. Also, Boettcher said Junke confessed immediately, was not distributing the child pornography images and his cooperation with the investigation has been unprecedented.
Junke, 70, maintains that a longtime pornography addiction spiraled out of control in the past year or two. He began sex-offender treatment shortly after he was caught in September by taking his computer tower to a repair shop. He also attends support group meetings at Walla Walla University.
Frazier agreed the treatment alternative sentence for Junke is appropriate, but decided he needs more jail time because “this was a very serious crime.”
The courtroom was nearly empty at Wednesday afternoon’s hearing, with only a handful of court-related personnel attending. Junke, grasping a tissue and occasionally cupping his hands to his face, wore the traditional striped jail inmate garb and shackles.
Standing to begin his soft-spoken, contrite seven-minute statement, Junke paused and told Frazier, “I’m ashamed to be here.”
He said he is humiliated for what he’s become and is well aware his crime, although not molestation, is not victimless.
“Anyone who looks at child porn is an abuser of the worst kind,” he added, expressing desire to apologize to the young girls on images he viewed, but not knowing who they are.
He said his life has been “a train wreck” of his own building for a long time and a prison of sorts. But he expressed determination to succeed in therapy and regain the trust of his family and friends.
“I’m going to turn this around and make something wholesome of the years I have left,” he said.
Frazier responded that when he was assigned this case, it “quite frankly was shocking.”
He pointed to Junke’s “opportunities and advantages” in life not seen in most other defendants, said Junke viewed the disgusting pictures knowing it was criminal and he would not “walk away” with a lesser amount of jail time than others would face.
Report notes Junke’s porn history
A presentence investigation report in the John Junke case reveals information as to what might have led to his child pornography convictions.
Junke, 70, of 603 W. Alder St., pleaded guilty Feb. 4 to two counts of first-degree and four counts of second-degree possession of depictions of a minor engaged in sexually explicit conduct.
The illegal images were detected by a technician after Junke took his computer tower to an area shop for repair on Sept. 9.
Walla Walla police obtained a search warrant for his residence Sept. 13 and, with his cooperation and confession, also located a laptop computer and an external storage hard drive.
Later examination of the confiscated devices revealed 35 images of child pornography, including two that each depict a preteen girl having sexual relations with a male.
He maintains that he knew he would be caught when, as “a cry for help,” he took his computer to the repair shop, according to the presentence report submitted this week by Community Corrections Officer Genie Smith.
In a description of his offense included in the report, Junke acknowledged a longtime addiction to pornography that became overwhelming with the advent of the Internet.
“In the last year or so I encountered child porn sites and downloaded pix intended to lure you into purchasing a subscription,” he wrote.
He added he has been working with local psychologist Stephen Rubin to discover the reasons “in the hope that I can gain control over my addiction and get to be normal in the ways I express my male sexuality.”
He believes his addiction is tied to early family dynamics, attending an all-boys boarding high school in Wisconsin, and pressures to get married and establish a family while struggling with career choices, according to his written description.
“It’s a mess, but I’m up for it.”
Rubin believes Junke, who last was divorced in 2002, is not a danger to the community, there is no indication he sexually molested anyone and that treatment can be successful, according to Smith’s report.
And “(Junke) said he has found an accompanying relief and comfort in knowing the burdens he has carried for so long are ‘being lifted away and removed,’” Smith wrote.
An ordained minister as well as an attorney, Junke came to Walla Walla to join a law firm in 1979. He served as the elected District Court judge from 1991 through 1994 when he was defeated for re-election. He then started a private practice, including acting as a public defender.
In 2006, he voluntarily resigned from the Washington State Bar Association in lieu of disbarment after having an unethical, yearlong romantic relationship with a woman client starting in March 2004.
He has held various jobs since then, including director of ticket sales and service for the Walla Walla Sweets baseball team, from which he was fired in September.
Most recently he received unemployment and Social Security benefits.
“Mr. Junke will need to gain steady employment as soon as possible to ensure that he can maintain the (sex-offender treatment) payments as arranged,” Smith’s report says.
Terry McConn can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 526-8319.