Crime & Courts

Troopers: Napakiak tribal officer arrested for sexually abusing minor

The tribal police officer in a Kuskokwim River village near Bethel has been arrested for sexually abusing a minor.

The arrest was part of another investigation into a sexual assault on the job, Alaska State Troopers said.

The agency's Violent Offenders Unit on Monday arrested 22-year-old Napakiak tribal police officer William Smith for second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, according to a troopers dispatch Thursday.

The arrest was made during a separate investigation into charges Smith sexually assaulted a woman in his care for protective custody at the public safety office, troopers said. They described that as unrelated to the sex abuse case.

An investigation continues, and more charges are to follow, troopers said.

A man who answered the phone Thursday at the village tribal offices said, "No comment. Sorry," when asked about the arrest.

The village's tribal government never submitted Smith's name to the Alaska Police Standards Council as required by notification laws, Alaska Department of Public Safety spokesman Jonathon Taylor said Thursday.

A rarely followed state regulation says village and tribal governments are supposed to notify the council within 30 days of a new police hire.

A background check is performed to make sure the officer doesn't have any felony convictions in the past 10 years. Then, within a year of hire, the officer must complete 48 hours of training to be certified by the state.

Village police officers can be hired when they're 19, while village public safety officers and police officers generally must be 21. They also receive less training and aren't necessarily disqualified by prior convictions for misdemeanor-level domestic violence or drug use convictions.

Napakiak is about 10 miles downriver from Bethel and has roughly 350 residents.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.