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Troopers: Chugiak man arrested in sexual assault, choking of 15-year-old girl

Zaz Hollander

WASILLA -- A 33-year-old Chugiak man choked and then sexually assaulted a 15-year-old girl in a Jim Creek access parking lot early Tuesday morning, according to court documents filed by Alaska State Troopers in Palmer court Wednesday.

The girl told troopers that she and a 16-year-old girl met up with Ralph Barenz II in Chugiak at 11:30 p.m. Monday and the three drove to a camper Barenz sometimes lives in near Jim Creek, investigator Sherry Ferno wrote in a sworn affidavit filed with sexual assault charges against Barenz.

Troopers identified the location of the assault as the Pavilion Parking Lot on East Sullivan Avenue in Butte, the starting point to a popular trail leading to the creek that flows into the nearby Knik River.

The girls had known Barenz for about a month, and the older girl was seeing him regularly, they told Ferno. 

The trio drank vodka and smoked marijuana at the camper, according to the affidavit. Around 3 a.m., the victim told the investigator, the other girl and Barenz left to get sick. The older girl returned to the camper and passed out.

Barenz and the 15-year-old went into a tent nearby and lay down together and “touched each other” but at some point Barenz asked her to perform oral sex on him and she refused, Ferno wrote. He tried to force her while the girl tried to push him off.

“At that time Ralph grabbed (the girl) by the throat and strangled her,” the investigator wrote. She told Ferno she couldn’t breathe, saw stars and thought she lost consciousness though she also kicked and kneed at the man to get him off of her.

Barenz loosened his grip but then sexually assaulted the girl after, she said, she “told Ralph to ‘do it’ and she would not tell,” the affidavit states.

Barenz passed out and the girl got dressed and tried to wake the other teen but couldn’t, Ferno wrote. She found a camper near a porta-potty, woke the people inside and asked them to call for help.

Palmer-based patrol troopers responded, then contacted the agency’s child-abuse investigation unit around 4:45 a.m. Tuesday.

Troopers arrested Barenz on felony charges of first-degree sexual assault and third-degree assault. He told another investigator he had been drinking vodka alone at his campsite, according to Ferno’s affidavit.

He was taken to Mat-Su Pretrial Facility, where he was held without bail. He was scheduled for an initial court hearing Monday afternoon. 

Jim Creek, accessible by a rough trail near the Old Glenn Highway in Butte, is a popular fishing area during the day but a notorious hangout and party spot at night.

The Pavilion lot, on Mat-Su Borough land, is a large, unmaintained parking area that serves as an access point for Sexton and Envy trails, as well as the Knik Glacier Trail, according to a state map for the Knik River Public Use Area (pdf).

Barenz’s criminal record includes Anchorage court convictions in 2007 for driving under the influence and 2008 for disorderly conduct, according to a state courts database. He was arrested in early June on felony drug charges in a case still moving through the legal system in Palmer.

Contact Zaz Hollander at zhollander@adn.com.