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Alaska News

Lottery sponsor expects slim profit

  • Author: Kyle Hopkins
  • Updated: September 29, 2016
  • Published January 12, 2009

An advocacy group for sexual abuse victims that sponsored the biggest Alaska lottery of its kind will receive a fraction of the $350,000 claimed by the winner -- an Anchorage man with multiple sex-abuse convictions.

The organization, Standing Together Against Rape, is expected to receive between $2,000 and $20,000 once expenses are determined, an organizer of the lottery said on Monday.

STAR, and its partner, Lucky Times Pull Tabs, hope Friday's drawing will be a springboard for future lotteries, which Lucky Times owner Abe Spicola said could one day raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the nonprofit.

"We knew that this particular go-around, the margins were going to be a little slim," said Ginger George-Smith, events development coordinator for STAR.

Still, STAR could get an unexpected boost this time around from the winner himself, who has talked about donating $100,000 of his winnings to the charity, Spicola said.

The family of two of the man's victims say he shouldn't get any money at all.

VICTIM SPEAKS OUT

Alec Ahsoak, 53, came forward to claim his winnings Saturday. Promoters billed the half-million dollar lottery as the biggest in state history, and Ahsoak gets $350,000 after taxes, Spicola said.

After Ahsoak came forward, KTUU-Channel 2 reported that he pleaded guilty in 1993 and in 2000 to three counts of sexual abuse of a minor.

When contacted by the Daily News at the Salvation Army-run hotel that Ahsoak lists as his residence, he said his lawyer advised him not to talk to the news media. The lawyer, Lance Wells, said he was meeting with Ahsoak but declined to comment. No children live at the hotel, which is often used by people who are new to the community or coming out of treatment programs, said Salvation Army spokeswoman Jenni Ragland.

One of Ahsoak's victims, who is now in her 20s, lives in Anchorage.

Seeing him win the money felt like a slap in the face, considering the lottery is meant to help Standing Together Against Rape, she said in a phone interview.

"I don't think he should get the money. I know that's not up to me to say. ... It's just not right that he would get the money," she said. (The Daily News generally doesn't identify victims of sexual assault by name and is not doing so here.)

"We're still dealing with it and he gets to walk away with half a million dollars," the woman said.

Ahsoak was a family friend who lived in her home in the early 1990s.

The victims' mother said she kicked him out of the house and called police when she learned he was touching her daughters.

Now Ahsoak's windfall should go to his victims, said the mother, who also lives in Alaska.

"I would like to see him pay to the kids ... make compensation to them, so that they can take care of their families," she said.

Ahsoak told KTUU Saturday that he's worked hard to turn his life around and has been in treatment for the past year.

MORE LOTTERIES TO COME

STAR officials say Ahsoak's win underscores the scope of the sexual abuse problem in Alaska, where the rate of reported rapes is highest in the nation, according to 2007 FBI crime statistics.

"It certainly sheds a light on the problem here in Alaska and that we need to continue, and STAR needs to continue on our mission," Executive Director Nancy Haag said Sunday.

Peppered with questions about the lottery winner, STAR also issued a written statement Monday:

"The story of STAR is not about the winner of the lottery. The story of STAR is about the victims of sexual assault we serve and sexual assaults we seek to prevent through our educational outreach."

For example, the nonprofit said it responded to four adult sexual assaults and answered 18 calls on its crisis hot line over the weekend.

Alaska doesn't have a state lottery, but certain types of gambling are legal with state-approved permits if a portion of the money goes to charity.

STAR contacted Spicola and Lucky Times Pull Tabs over the summer, Haag said. "We had approached him about being part of the pull tab operation he has, and then he said he was looking into doing this lottery, raffle."

Why hasn't there been such a large scale lottery before?

"It's my impression that no one thought it could be done," said Jeff Prather, gaming group manager for the state Department of Revenue.

Prather expects more lotteries to come, considering the publicity the first event generated, as well as a change in state law that allows raffles to be advertised on television.

SMALL PROFIT

Organizers said it was too soon to know how many tickets were sold or exactly how much money STAR will receive, but it's safe to say the group will get considerably less than the payout. After earlier projecting that sales could approach 150,000 of the $5 tickets, Spicola on Monday estimated the number of tickets actually sold was likely between 105,000 to 125,000.

State law says STAR must get at least 10 percent of what's left after the payout.

"If STAR and Lucky Times walk away with $5,000 each, we'd both be very happy," Spicola said.

As of Sunday, STAR planned to proceed with another lottery in July, Haag said, though ultimately such decisions are up to the non-profit's board, which meets later this month.

Ahsoak was convicted in 1993 of molesting two girls under the age of 13. He was sentenced to four years in prison, according to court records.

In March of 2000, police arrested him again for molesting a different young girl he was babysitting. Through a plea bargain, Ahsoak was sentenced to six years in prison on a single count of sexual abuse of a minor. Prosecutors in that case dropped another sex abuse charge, and a charge of failing to register as a sex offender.

Find Kyle Hopkins online at adn.com/contact/khopkins or call him at 257-4334.

By KYLE HOPKINS

khopkins@adn.com

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