Crime & Courts

Former acting attorney general indicted on sex abuse charges

clyde sniffen, ed sniffen

Alaska’s former acting attorney general was indicted Monday by an Anchorage grand jury on three felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor.

Clyde “Ed” Sniffen, 58, was first charged in May, more than a year after the state launched an investigation after reports surfaced that he had sex with a 17-year-old girl he coached on an Anchorage high school mock trial team during 1991.

The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica first reported the accusations of sexual misconduct against Sniffen in January 2021. He resigned as the accusations were about to become public. The charges in the indictment mirror those filed by Special Prosecutor Gregg Olson in May.

Sniffen replaced former Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, who resigned when a Daily News and Propublica investigation reported he had sent hundreds of inappropriate messages to a female state employee. Sniffen stepped into the role in August 2020 and had been appointed days before his resignation to fill the role permanently.

Nikki Dougherty White said she came forward with the allegations after learning that Sniffen had been appointed as the state’s top prosecutor. She said Sniffen first had sex with her during a West High School mock trial team trip to New Orleans when she was 17. Sniffen, who was 27 at the time, continued their sexual relationship after returning to Anchorage, she told reporters.

The age of consent in Alaska is generally 16, but law dictates that it is illegal for an adult to have sex with a 16 or 17 year old they are teaching, counseling or coaching.

Sniffen’s attorney, Jeffrey Robinson, moved to have the case dismissed last month because he said the lengthy delay between the event in question to when the charges were filed violate Sniffen’s right to due process.

Robinson wrote in the motion that the allegations were reported to police in 1994 but the case was closed because White did not cooperate. Law enforcement knew of the allegations for 27 years, he wrote, before charges were filed.

In the motion, Robinson also argues that Sniffen was not in a position of power over White. Records from the high school that would detail his position no longer exist, the motion said.

Robinson was not available Wednesday to comment on the case.

A response to the motion has not yet been filed by Olson, the special prosecutor. He declined to comment on the case when reached by phone on Wednesday.

Sniffen is scheduled to appear in Anchorage Superior Court on Monday.

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Tess Williams

Tess Williams is a reporter for the Anchorage Daily News, focusing on breaking news. Before joining the ADN in 2019, she was a reporter for the Grand Forks Herald in North Dakota and previously helped cover the Nebraska Legislature for The Associated Press. Contact her at twilliams@adn.com.

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