Crime & Courts

Soldotna trooper arrested on child sexual abuse charges involving multiple victims, officials say

A Soldotna-based Alaska State Trooper was arrested Wednesday and is facing seven charges of sexual abuse of a minor, the state’s public safety commissioner said.

The Kenai Police Department notified troopers Saturday that there was an allegation against 39-year-old Benjamin Strachan of sexual abuse of a minor, Public Safety Commissioner James Cockrell told reporters Wednesday. Investigators from Soldotna, the Matanuska-Susitna Borough and Anchorage launched an investigation that led them to believe Strachan had sexually abused multiple victims within the last year, Cockrell said.

Troopers did not specify how many victims had been identified by Wednesday afternoon or how Strachan knew them. Cockrell said troopers do not believe Strachan came into contact with victims while on the job.

“This investigation was handled in the same manner that any allegation of this nature is investigated and no special consideration was given to Strachan due to his profession,” Cockrell said.

He was arrested Wednesday on one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and six counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor. The charges related to multiple victims, troopers spokesman Austin McDaniel said.

Col. Bryan Barlow, director of the troopers, said the investigation is ongoing and while there is potential that more victims will come forward, “there’s no indication of that right now.”

Strachan was held at Wildwood Pretrial Facility and is scheduled for an arraignment hearing Thursday morning in Kenai Superior Court.

Strachan has been a trooper since June 2020 and has been assigned to Soldotna since then. He did not have any prior law enforcement experience before joining the troopers, Cockrell said. He was placed on leave pending the outcome of the criminal case, Cockrell said. Troopers did not say if the leave was paid or unpaid.

Barlow acknowledged the victim’s bravery for bringing the allegations to law enforcement. Troopers have asked anyone who believes they may have been a victim or has information that could help the investigation to contact the Soldotna office at 907-262-4453.

Cockrell said the allegations “saddened and sickened him.”

“The public places immense trust into its police officers and state troopers, and the actions of a single trooper have now tarnished that trust and the badge that hundreds of brave men and women wear each day across our great state,” Cockrell said.

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