AD Main Menu

New Year's walk turns into sexual assault; 18-year-old jailed on $1 million bail

Jerzy Shedlock
The incident took place New Year's Day in the Oceanview area of Anchorage. Jessye Potts, 18, faces four counts of sexual assault. Loren Holmes photo

Eighteen-year-old Jessye Potts allegedly sexually assaulted a 17-year-old girl during what she thought would be a friendly walk on New Year’s Day. The young man bound the girl’s hands and covered her mouth with duct tape before the assault, and he allegedly tried to suffocate her.

Potts was charged Thursday with kidnapping, two counts of assault and four counts of sexual assault stemming from the alleged incident. His bail has been set at $1 million. 

“Our justice system has set precedence with regard to this bail amount and we hope this sets a standard for future offenders to ensure the safety of our citizens,” said Sgt. Ken McCoy of the Special Victims Unit in a prepared statement.

It’s a substantial bail for a rape case, and one of the first reported cases of 2014 in a state that leads the nation in sexual assaults.  More than half of Alaska women have experienced violence with an intimate partner, sexual violence, or both.

According to online court records, charges were handed down for three separate men in three Alaska communities on Thursday.

Clayton Greist, 34, has been charged with a single count of first-degree sexual assault, as well as two assault charges, all of which are domestic violence related. Recently, a handful of stories have emerged involving sexual abuse within families, such as the extensive abuse of two children over a 10-year period by a mother-daughter duo in Wasilla and the case of Peter Tony, accused of abusing children, including his stepdaughter, in Bethel for 40 years.

Daniel Lee Hinsberger, 54, faces four counts of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor in Homer. The online records indicate his alleged victim was younger than 13.

Potts’ Anchorage victim is 17, but the alleged rapist is barely a legal adult himself. Potts’ Facebook page says he attended a local high school.

The victim told Anchorage police she left her house New Year’s Day and met up with “a male friend known to (her) as ‘Jessye’,” according to the charging document. She accepted an invitation to go for a walk at 3:15 in the afternoon. The two allegedly met up where Potts had been staying and from there strolled around a South Anchorage neighborhood, ending up near the railroad tracks alongside Cook Inlet.

Earlier this year, Potts had posted a comment on his Facebook page, expressing frustrations about his social life. “Isn't there anyone that actually wants to hang out anymore. Not just smoke or drink. Why is it there’s more girls that would rather do drugs then do something like let me cook for them and take them to a movie” the post says.

But on Wednesday, resting atop a hill near the tracks, the teenage girl said she commented that it was getting late and dark. Potts allegedly ignored the comments and said something to the effect of “sometimes crazy things pop into my head.” The 17-year-old girl took a brief phone call from her mother, assuring her she’d be home, before Potts began his assault, the charging documents say.

Potts allegedly grabbed the phone from the girl as the call was ending. She asked for the cellphone back and he gave it up willingly, only to have Potts allegedly strike her in the head multiple times and snatch the phone from her pocket.

“The blows stunned her and caused her to be unable to maintain her balance. (She) fell face up, onto the ground. The suspect was standing over her,” the charging document says.

Potts allegedly struck the girl once more on the head after flipping her over. He bound her hands and mouth with duct tape, pushed her face into the snow and raped her, the charges say. The victim later told police she thought Potts was trying to suffocate her, and the state’s felony assault charge alleges the same.

When the assault ended, Potts left the girl on the ground and began walking down the railroad track. She lay motionless for a few moments, then began looking around. He allegedly ran back toward the 17-year-old, and she “began begging the suspect not to further assault her.”

Potts allegedly removed the duct tape and told her something like he “did not know what she was talking about,” and fled, the charging documents say.

The victim ran to a random house in the neighborhood near the train track, jumping a fence and grabbed the attention of its occupants at the backdoor. Police responded to the house and spoke with the victim. She pointed out Potts’ home, where police found him shortly after the assault.

“With the victim seeking help quickly, detectives were able to investigate the case in a timely manner and make an arrest. We would like to encourage all victims of sexual assault to report as soon as possible, because in these cases time is of the essence,” Sgt. McCoy said.

The victim underwent a sexual assault examination, but the results of the test were still unknown when the charges against Potts were filed. However, the nurse examiner noted injuries to the girl’s skull and finger.

The charging document notes that Potts doesn’t have a criminal record. However, last year a teen about the same age as Potts filed a long-term restraining order against him. The request was denied, according to online court records.

Contact Jerzy Shedlock at jerzy(at)alaskadispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter @jerzyms.