In a rare prosecution of a decades-old sexual abuse cold case, an Anchorage grand jury indicted a former Alaska man on charges he abused a young child at a park in 1994.
Lawrence Andrew Lekanoff, 52, was identified when a state effort to process untested sexual assault kits yielded a DNA link to the case, the Alaska Department of Law said in a statement Tuesday.
On Feb. 23, Lekanoff was charged with two counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the first- and second-degree.
It wasn’t the first time: Both before and after the 1994 incident, Lekanoff was convicted of sexually abusing young children.
The case dates back to June 1994, when Anchorage police investigated a report that a child had been sexually assaulted at a park in the city.
Police gathered evidence from the victim, who was 5. But the case went nowhere.
“Efforts to identify a suspect were unsuccessful,” the Department of Law said.
The evidence gathered sat untested. The case remained cold for nearly three decades.
In 1995 -- one year after the assault on the 5-year-old in the park -- Lekanoff was arrested for a similar crime: Attempting to sexually abuse a 6-year-old girl at Cheney Lake, according to a Daily News story from the time. Another charge where he allegedly tried to grab a 4-year-old girl’s genitals was dropped as part of a plea deal that saw him sentenced to eight years in prison, the story said.
At his sentencing, the judge noted that Lekanoff already had a history of abusing children, including a conviction for sexually assaulting a young child when he was a minor himself.
At the time, the judge said he would “probably always pose a threat to the community.”
In recent years, Alaska has poured millions of dollars into testing a backlog of thousands of rape kits dating back to the 1980s that, for a variety of reasons, were never tested.
One project funded with a $1.5 million federal grant to examine Alaska State Troopers-held kits had yielded a single prosecution by early 2021.
A separate, legislatively funded $2.75 million effort turned up about 3,000 untested kits from local police departments from 50 different law enforcement agencies in Alaska.
The evidence that tied Lekanoff to the case was tested as part of that effort, according to the Department of Law.
Lekanoff was not the first person to be arrested and charged as a result of the review of untested kits from local law enforcement departments in Alaska, according to Department of Law spokeswoman Patty Sullivan. Because people could be charged locally, she didn’t have total numbers “readily available,” she said.
Public records show that in more recent years, Lekanoff served his sentence and left Alaska. He was convicted of failure to register as a sex offender in Montana and Colorado, the (Montana) Belgrade News reported in 2022.
Lekanoff was arrested Monday in the Lower 48 and will be extradited to Alaska, according to the Department of Law.