Crime & Courts

Man acquitted of child sex abuse after Kenai trial faces military charges

A 34-year-old man acquitted of sexual abuse of a minor and assault after a jury trial in Kenai last year has now been charged with similar crimes by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Petty Officer 2nd Class John Blackman, previously of Soldotna, is accused of multiple violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, said Coast Guard spokesperson Kip Wadlow.

Blackman is currently assigned to the hazardous materials department at Coast Guard Base Kodiak. He has served in the Coast Guard for more than decade, working maintenance jobs.

He was charged in March 2012 with beating and sexually abusing a 4-year-old boy who was allegedly the son of an ex-girlfriend. Soldotna police investigated allegations of abuse after the child's mother contacted authorities.

The mother reported bruising on the boy's neck, arms, back, legs and genitals, according to charges in the now-closed case. She allegedly took the boy to a sexual assault nurse examiner in Kenai who determined his injuries were severe and would require follow-up from a doctor.

The state's argument at trial focused on an officer's interview with the alleged child victim. Assistant district attorney Angela Garay, who is no longer with the Kenai District Attorney's Office, said the boy was asked no leading questions and that his responses affirmed the abuse, the Peninsula Clarion reported of the case's closing arguments.

Defense attorney Andy Pevehouse argued the mother coached her son to accuse Blackman of abuse, according to the Clarion.


According to online court records, Blackman was acquitted of all charges -- four counts of second-degree sex abuse of a minor, three counts of third-degree assault and a single count of second-degree assault.

An assistant district attorney in Kenai did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday.

On Dec. 4, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. John D. Cashman filed a charge sheet against Blackman. One of the charges alleged Blackman assaulted a child under 16 around the same time indicated in the state's case.

Wadlow declined to say whether the military and state charges are connected.

"I can't say (the charges are connected)," he said. "The Coast Guard takes all reports of misconduct by our personnel extremely seriously. We conducted an investigation, which has been completed."

The state's charges in the sexual abuse case say the Coast Guard was conducting its own investigation.

In all, Blackman faces seven charges, some of which include multiple specifications, the military's version of counts. The first charge alleges he asked a Shari Blackman to follow a woman without her consent. A second specification under the same charge alleges he provided Shari with login information to the woman's email account.

The second charge alleges Blackman intended to deceive Coast Guard special agents. His statement to the agents was summarized as, "Several of the police officers involved in the state case against him were fired or quit because of the case against him, or words to that effect, which was totally false, and was then known by the said Petty Officer Blackman to be false."

Another charge alleges Blackman viewed explicit photos of the woman mentioned in count 1 without her permission. A 2011 case against Blackman in state court charged him with violating a protective order, criminal use of a computer and the indecent viewing of a photo without consent, according to court records. Those charges were dismissed in 2013, months after the sex abuse case.

The new assault counts against Blackman alleged he choked and punched "a child under the age of 16 years."

Other charges accuse Blackman of perjury, the discharge of a firearm inside a home and abusing animals.

Parties will go through evidence at a preliminary hearing set for late January or early February in Kodiak. The hearing is similar to a grand jury proceeding. A preliminary hearing officer will decide whether there is enough evidence to proceed with a court martial.

"After the hearing, it will be determined what the next course of action will be, or what action we could take against Petty Officer Blackman, the most severe of which would be trial by court martial," Wadlow said.

Jerzy Shedlock

Jerzy Shedlock is a former reporter for Alaska Dispatch News. He left the ADN in 2017.