Crime & Courts

Man charged with sexually assaulting teen who died in Selawik

A 29-year-old Selawik man has been charged with sexually assaulting and giving alcohol to a 16-year-old girl who died in the Northwest Alaska village Wednesday, according to an affidavit filed Thursday in Kotzebue court.

According to the affidavit, the Selawik Clinic received a call at 12:52 a.m. Wednesday from 29-year-old Brent Norton, who reported that someone at a residence in the village was choking on vomit, not breathing and cold. A local health aide told investigators the call came from the Selawik Police Office.

Two health aides and a village police officer responded to Norton's call and arrived at the residence eight minutes later, the affidavit said. When they arrived, they found the 16-year-old on the bathroom floor without a pulse.

The responders performed CPR on the girl for 20 minutes before she was declared dead.

A 17-year-old girl was also in the house at the time of the incident. While emergency responders performed CPR, she told them, "Brent let us drink," court documents state. A health aide noted she could "smell the odor of alcohol" from the deceased as they performed chest compressions.

The 17-year-old later told investigators Norton had provided her and the 16-year-old with a bottle of whiskey. Norton admitted to purchasing the whiskey in Selawik, which has prohibited the importation and sale of alcohol since 1986, the affidavit said.

Norton also admitted to having sex with the teen while she was unconscious, according to the affidavit.

Norton has been charged with one count of second-degree sexual assault and two counts of furnishing alcohol to a minor.

Alaska State Troopers said the teen's body will be sent to the State Medical Examiner's Office for an autopsy.

"... (D)iscussions with the Office of Special Prosecutions will determine whether additional charges will be filed against Norton," troopers wrote in an online dispatch.

Court records show Norton had pleaded guilty to one count of importing alcohol into a dry area in March 2012. An open case against him from February 2015 includes two counts each of furnishing alcohol to minors and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The 16-year-old was one of two people found dead in Selawik this week. Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters said the second death didn't appear to be linked to the case against Norton.