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Thursday, January 30th, 2014

Intimidation charges net suspended sentence

By Kathy Thompson
CELINA - An elderly St. Henry woman found guilty earlier this month of intimidating victims/witnesses in her husband's sexual abuse case was given a 495-day suspended jail sentence Wednesday morning.
Alvira Albers, 81, also was ordered to pay $5,966 in combined fine and court costs by March 3 during sentencing by Celina Municipal Court Judge James Scheer. She cannot have contact with victims or witnesses in the case for at least five years and has the right to appeal the case within 30 days, the judge stated.
Albers faced a maximum year and a half in jail and a $2,500 fine. The sentencing followed a three-day trial that ended Jan. 18 when jurors found her guilty of 11 counts of intimidation.
She sat silent in court, her eyes closing periodically as the sentence was read aloud.
Albers was convicted of writing letters to six victims and witnesses connected to sexual imposition charges her husband, Carl Albers, pleaded guilty to last year in Mercer County Common Pleas Court. The 80-year-old man was accused of inappropriate behavior involving five children, ages 8, 9, and 10 at the time, between 1990 and 2009. He was classified as a Tier I sex offender and sentenced to a 300-day suspended jail term.
Scheer said after reading letters from Alvira Albers, family and friends, he decided jail time was not appropriate for the elderly woman, as it wasn't for her husband. He told her that judges rarely sentence elderly people to jail, and even though Albers is "alert, spry for her age and healthy," it wasn't suitable in this case.
Scheer said he weighed the matters heavily before making his decision.
"I'm not here to make people happy or sad," the judge told Albers prior to sentencing. "When I talk to grandparents, one of their greatest joys is spending it with their grandchildren. I don't think that will ever be the case here again. The trust here is forever gone. Maybe that is more penalty than I can ever give."
Following the court proceeding, Alvira Albers said she must accept the guilty verdict and sentence but believes the entire case was about "hatred and revenge." The matter occurred because of unresolved anger because she and her husband would "not compromise our faith," she said.
Alvira Albers throughout the trial and after sentencing claimed her husband was innocent of all charges, and despite the fact he agreed to plea guilty in a plea agreement, the victims "weren't happy."
"They wanted more," she said after the hearing.
City law director George Moore in a letter to the court said he believed the state put on the "best possible case we could." He requested the maximum penalty and called the offenses committed by Albers "particularly egregious."
"This court is well aware of the substantial difficulty victims of sexual abuse experience in deciding to tell loved ones and law enforcement about the abuse," Moore wrote. "Another family member decided they were lying and tried to intimidate them into dropping their allegations."   
Moore stated he felt Albers' "mean-spiritedness and complete lack of remorse" indicted not only her inability to accept responsibility for her crimes, but an "unwillingness" to even acknowledge her guilt.
"It's a window into her heart," Moore stated.
Moore and co-counsel, Josh Muhlenkamp, later told the newspaper they were disappointed with the sentencing. Muhlenkamp said there is only so much attorneys can do; the sentencing is up to the judge.
"The jury convicted her of all counts and she will have to live with those convictions on her record for the rest of her life," Moore said. "Even though her jail time was suspended, hopefully this was enough that she will defer from any future contact with the victims in this case."
Some of the victims from Carl Albers' case attended Wednesday's sentencing and were visibly shocked when Scheer suspended the jail term.  
"We're afraid of what she's going to do next," said one victim, who was moved to tears when the judge read the sentence. "This wasn't even a slap on the hand. What keeps anyone in Mercer County from doing this to someone else?"
In a letter Alvira Albers wrote to Scheer prior to sentencing, she stated she believed she would receive a fine and court costs and could not plead guilty to the charges due to her "conscience."
She also wrote she "certainly never expected such a high degree of anger, vile and hatred" to be shown by the victims, especially not in a public area such as a courtroom.
Albers defended herself during the trial after placing her defense attorneys, Jon Rion and Kevin Lennen of Dayton on her witness list in October.
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Celina's boys swimming team completed their unscathed run through the Western Buckeye League season and captured the league championship for the first time since the 2006-07 campaign on Wednesday at the Defiance YMCA. [More]
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