Nome man sentenced to 100 years in jail for sexual abuse of minors spanning decades

Robert O’Connor, 73, was sentenced to 100 years jail time, with 40 years suspended, on Monday, June 3 for sexually abusing eight victims between 1990 and 2022.
O’Connor was arrested in January 2023 after multiple victims came forward to report sexual abuse by O’Connor.
The initial charging documents listed five victims and 22 charges, of which 16 were unclassified felonies of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree, two charges of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree and two charges of sexual assault in the second degree.  
Since the initial charging court documents were filed with the court on January 27, 2023, three more victims were identified.
In April 2024, O’Connor changed his plea to guilty on five counts, admitting guilt to sexual abuse in the first and second degree of eight minor victims for a total of 100 years in jail, with 40 suspended.
Present in Judge Romano DiBenedetto’s court room were Assistant District Attorney Ashly Crockett, defense attorney Lars Johnson, Nome Police Chief and the case’s investigating officer William Crockett, victim advocate Sharon Sparks and an NPD officer.
O’Connor was on the phone from Goose Creek Correctional Facility.
A survivor of O’Connor’s abuse was on the phone to give a statement.
She laid the blame of decades of abuse at the community’s feet. “This court and this community has let us down,” she said. “This has gone on for more than 30 years. And a lot of people knew and didn’t say anything. At Girl Scout functions, at school functions or church, where he was ‘forgiven’ each Sunday. And no one said or did anything. He was a known sex offender and was still allowed to be around them children.”
She went on to say that her heart breaks for her children who will not know what an amazing place Nome could be, but the condoning community not only ruined it for her but also for future generations. She said she will never move back. “I hope you will never see the light of day again,” she said, addressing O’Connor.
Assistant DA Crockett addressed the court saying that this is a really significant case. “It’s significant in the number of counts the defendant has faced, which is 22 counts of sexual abuse against children, and sexual assault against adults in our community here in Nome . It’s significant in that the conduct that is charged in this case, and that the defendant has pled guilty to, spans decades, decades of abuse against children and against adults here in our community.”
She said that back in 1988, O’Connor was convicted of sexual abuse of a four-year-old minor in the second degree and sentenced. He was shortly after that released from custody. In 1990, O’Connor began abusing children in the community, almost immediately after having been sentenced for one count of abuse against a four-year-old child, Crockett said. The charges span decades between 1990s and 2022, when a sexual assault of an adult was reported. “That final charge of sexual assault is what prompted a lot of people to finally start coming forward about what had been happening in this community for decades at the hands of this defendant. But when one person came forward, then a second came forward, then a third came forward and finally the silence was broken and people were actually talking about the things that they had experienced and that they had suffered over the period of decades at the hands of this individual.”
Crockett went on to say that O’Connor abused his authority as an adult, as a cab driver with access to vulnerable adults. Addressing the survivors of the abuse, Crockett acknowledged their courage to come forward. “The eight victims who are named in this complaint and whose charges are being addressed here before the court today are incredibly brave women. They’re strong, they’re brave, they came forward. Some of them after decades of silence, some of them after only recently learning about the abuse that was enacted against them. But it really took a lot of courage for them to do that, for them to talk about it, for them to believe that their stories and their recounting of what happened to them would be believed, that it would be taken seriously by the police, by the district attorney’s office and by the courts.”
The defendant, she said, is taking responsibility by accepting the 100-year sentence with 40 years suspended, leaving 60 years to serve and a ten-year probation time. “That sentence, for an individual who is in his 70s, is essentially a life sentence,” she said.
The defense presented no witness to give a statement. The defense attorney said O’Connor has genuine regret and remorse for what he’s done. In a short statement O’Connor said in a shaky, whiny voice: “I really realize what a horrible, horrible person I’ve become since I was a young boy. I’m very truly sorry, everything I’ve done. And I accept my life from this day forward. Thank you.”
 Judge DiBenedetto explained that the sentence is the result of an agreement between the state and the defendant. “There’s nothing I can do from the bench that can restore the tragedy that happened here,” he said. “I can’t really do much more than just acknowledge all the victims that are listening and what they’ve been through. The sentence surely does capture reaffirmation of societal values and community condemnation as it’s a substantial jail sentence that’s, that’s being imposed. It’s important because unfortunately, and particularly this community sexual crimes are a problem.”
By the end of the sentencing, the judge instructed the jail guard over the phone to take O’Connor’s fingerprints.
Nome Police Chief Crockett said after the sentencing that sexual abuse isn’t just a crime to the victim alone. “It’s a crime against all of us,” he said. “This affects our communities, our society, and we have to draw red lines. We have to say, this is not right, this is wrong. Should you cross this line, you’re gonna be held accountable for it.” Crockett also said that there may be other victims out there. “There very well may be additional victims,” he said. “It might have been just too hard to come forward to tell their story, but hopefully, they see that some justice was done, and that he was held accountable for his deeds and actions. So even though they didn’t come forward, we hope that there can be some degree of healing through this process.”

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762
USA

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112

www.nomenugget.net

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