APACHE COUNTY — Accused voyeur, Eagar chiropractor Kevin Eagar, has asked the Apache County Superior Court to release him from jail him while his criminal case proceeds. Eagar was arrested in January when the Apache County Attorney’s Office charged him with 22 felony counts, alleging that he secretly watched and recorded women, his patients, at his office in various states of undress and using the bathroom. Eagar allegedly admitted to Eagar police that he obtained sexual gratification in secretly viewing women in those circumstances. Eagar is presumed by law to be not guilty.
After the lengthy investigation concluded, Eagar was charged June 26 with 198 counts including surreptitiously photographing or videotaping, voyeurism, sexual abuse, sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, unlawfully practicing medicine without a license and forgery — all felonies. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges July 22.
He has been held in the Apache County Jail since his arrest on a $1 million cash bond but he wants that changed. In pleadings filed last month, Eagar’s attorney, Adam Zickerman of Flagstaff, and Deputy Apache County Attorney Alane Moore have been fighting it out. The opposing lawyers have cited various statutes, court rules, case law, and the constitutions of both the United States and the State of Arizona in support of their respective positions.
It’s a thorny issue because in the American criminal justice system, an accused person is presumed to be innocent, unless or until he is found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt at trial. And as typical in the middle stages of a case, there has not been one shred of evidence presented to the court or a jury to establish Eagar’s guilt. That happens at trial and Eagar hasn’t had a trial yet; therefore, every time the judge looks over the bench at a pre-trial defendant, the judge presumes that he or she is looking at a completely innocent person.
But what to do with that person pending trial? The quandry is not new. The Arizona Constitution states that “All persons charged with a crime shall be admitted to bail,” excepting certain crimes that Eagar has not been charged with. The state in this case says that Eagar has already been “admitted to bail;” if he posts a $1 million cash bond, he can get out. The defense says that the Arizona and the U.S. constitutions also prohibit “excessive bail,” and the bond amount here is just that.
The attorneys then turned to statutory law promulgated by the legislature, which is binding on the court, to analyze the excessive bail issue. There are 15 things the law says a judge must consider, such as the risk of flight and the safety of the community. Also in the mix are the rules of criminal procedure, promulgated by the Arizona Supreme Court (also is binding on the court), which say that the number-one consideration in setting a bond amount is to assure the person’s appearance in court.
In a nutshell, the defense argues that Eagar will appear in court because he is not a flight risk, that he has strong ties to the community, no criminal record, never failed to appear in court, doesn’t use drugs, and is a U.S. citizen. Further, that he is not a danger to the community, rather a very respected member thereof; that he has lived and worked in the area for years, and his father lived in Eagar for 40 years. If released, Eagar says he can stay with a brother in the San Tan Valley, has a job waiting for him repairing restaurant equipment, and that he will show up to every court date.
The prosecutor responded with a seemingly oblique argument that there are different types of dangers to a community and because the state believes that Eagar uploaded offending videos to the “cloud,” Eagar can access them if he is released, “and continue the victimization of specific victims,” says a court filing. The state also points out that the court must listen to the views of the alleged victims before a decision is made; that Eagar has an addiction (voyeurism) and feels compelled to indulge it, thus creating a danger; that the great number of alleged victims and the long length of time Eagar is suspected of abusing people, all factor in against a release.
The state urges, if Eagar really has close ties to the community, why does he plan to live in another county? Finally, the state says that it’s OK with them if the bail terms are changed — as long as it is changed to no bond at all.
The judge will hear arguments Nov. 25.