Local News

Trial date moved for former Sitka principal

The trial date for a former Sitka educator accused of sexual assault has been pushed back until the summer. During a hearing Thursday in Sitka Superior Court, Joe Robidou’s defense attorney said she needed more time to prepare.

Julie Willoughby told the court that its original May 6 trial date was “unrealistic.” She also told Superior Court Judge David George the trial could last between 6 to 10 days, far longer than the state’s estimate of a four-day trial.

George moved the trial to the week of July 15, but noted it could move again to August, depending on court calendars and what the defense requests. Moving a trial date is not out of the ordinary.

Robidou is accused of six felony counts of sexual assault and an additional five misdemeanors. The charges relate to incidents that allegedly happened beginning last May and as recently as January. All of them involve other adults — teachers who worked for Robidou when he was principal of Blatchley Middle School.

Most recently, Robidou was the business manager for the Sitka School District, a job he’d taken the week before the charges came to the attention of school officials and police in January. He tendered his resignation sometime after that, and it became official on March 1, the same day he was indicted by a Sitka grand jury.

The court has ordered Robidou to stay off school property, but during Thursday’s hearing, defense attorney Willoughby asked that it relax that order on two occasions in May, so Robidou can attend evening events involving his stepdaughter.

Assistant District Attorney Jean Seaton said both she and the school district are opposed to that request. Judge George asked Willoughby to put it in writing, and said he’d rule after Seaton checked with victims in the case.

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