Sentencing of Robert Hansen: Religious & Other Matters

Rereading the Sentencing document for the first time in at least a decade, I’m struck by several things. First, the tenuous hold that religious life had on Robert Hansen throughout his life. Darla, his second wife, talked about trying to get him to church after his arrests in Alaska. She said he didn’t much like to go, probably because he felt guilty about everything the preacher talked about. Bob Hansen was religious when it served him, not the other way around.

Second, there’s what Rothschild refers to as “random plea bargaining.” It existed, of course, but the context is important: the first Hansen case in Alaska involved a real estate secretary, the second case involved a prostitute. It was the second case that was plea bargained away. That was not random.

Finally, it is crucial to remember that, despite his unattractive looks, his acne and his stutter, Robert C. Hansen managed to be married not once but twice. That doesn’t absolve him of being a woman hater, of course. He was. Still, by his own admission, Darla was the only person who could in the least part restrain him.

[Quoted from Robert Hansen’s Sentencing Document, February 27, 1984]

MR. ROTHSCHILD: Looking at records from the men’s reformatory in 1963 [after Bob was convicted of arson in Iowa], we see that then, as also when he served time in Alaska, he was involved in religious matters. He did religious counseling, he took a course in something called the Moody Bible Institute, he took speech therapy because of his stuttering problem and he regularly attended church services.

Then we don’t know much about Mr. Hansen other than he divorced his first wife of just a few months back then, later married the woman he’s still married to, and comes into contact with us then in 1971.

Hansen’s Sentencing Document (Click for Larger Image – 661KB)

Detail: Robert C. Hansen’s Sentencing Document

MR. ROTHSCHILD: He tells us this is the first time that he ever attempted to become involved with a woman other than his wife. She was 18 years old. It was November of ’71 and she made the mistake in driving down the streets of Anchorage of looking over to Mr. Hansen in a neighboring car and, at least to his memory, she smiled at him. He waved and she acknowledged the wave. This he took in his mind to be an approval of him, even perhaps a desire of him. He followed her home, he saw what apartment she went to and then at some point he went up and knocked on her door and, under the ruse of asking to use her telephone book, came into her apartment.

He then left, came back a few minutes later and asked for a date. She was in fact engaged, told him so and he left. He returned a few days later. She was driving home from work, she was not a woman working the streets, she worked in a realty office here in town.

She got out of her car, it was about 6:20 in the evening in November. It was dark. Walking to her apartment and the same man, she remembers, came up, grabbed her from behind, stuck a gun in her back and said, “Don’t scream. There’s a gun at your head. I’m going to blow your brains out if you scream.” […]

It was less than a month later that another 18 year old was coming out of the Nevada Cafe in the early morning hours of December, when he met her, got her in the car, tied her hands behind her back with shoelaces that he had in his pocket. Said he wanted to keep her for a couple of days. […]

As Your Honor knows, back in 1971 and ’72 the policy of the prosecutor’s office in the state of Alaska might be labeled a policy of random plea bargaining. And the man faced with these charges made a deal. He pled, but to the first incident, to assault with a deadly weapon. And the charges on the rape, kidnap and assault with a deadly weapon of the other woman were dropped.

The defense hired Ray Langdon of the Langdon Psychiatric Clinic, a man who certainly in his time, before he died, was identified with the defense in criminal cases. He made a report that was filed with the court in which he prognosticated problems in the future. He said, upon examining Mr. Hansen, he related that throughout his teenage life he was very shy and fearful of speaking to girls. If he did have the courage to ask one for a date, and he was refused, he then used to fantasize doing all sorts of harmful things to them.

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