JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) — A special prosecutor said Friday that he has filed charges of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree against former Alaska Attorney General Clyde “Ed” Sniffen.
Gregg Olson said the charges were filed Friday but he did not yet have a stamped copy of the documents or a case number to provide. The case did not yet show up in an online court records system Friday afternoon.
An attorney who has represented Sniffen did not immediately return a phone message from The Associated Press.
Cori Mills, a deputy attorney general with the Alaska Department of Law, sent an email to staff saying the office had learned that Olson had filed three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the third degree against Sniffen.
The email was provided by the department to the AP, which had requested it.
Sniffen was a longtime attorney with the department who was appointed attorney general by Gov. Mike Dunleavy in January 2021. However, Sniffen resigned shortly afterward. Attorneys general must be confirmed by the Legislature, and Sniffen resigned before that point.
Sniffen had replaced as attorney general Kevin Clarkson, who in 2020 submitted his resignation for what he called a “lapse of judgment” after details of text messages he sent to another state employee were revealed.
The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica last year reported that Sniffen's resignation was announced as they were reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct with a 17-year-old girl three decades earlier. The woman had told the news organizations that she and Sniffen began a sexual relationship in 1991 while she was a high school student. At the time, he was a 27-year-old attorney with a local law firm and a coach of her school’s mock trial competition team, the news organizations had reported.
“As you are all aware, an independent investigation into Mr. Sniffen’s relationship with a 17-year-old (at that time) girl many years ago had been ongoing since the relationship came to light in January 2021,” Mills wrote in her email.
“The Anchorage Police Department conducted the investigation, and the special prosecutor reviewed the investigation independent of our department. Now that charges have been filed, a grand jury will determine whether to indict based on the evidence presented to them," Mills wrote.
Mills said the “charging decision was made by the special prosecutor and all other prosecutorial actions in this case will likewise be handled by the special prosecutor.”
Sniffen “worked alongside us for many years. He was a valued colleague and to many of us, a friend," Mills wrote. “Today’s filing of charges may be disappointing and even discouraging, but our department serves all the people of Alaska and is committed to fairness and justice for everyone."
The Associated Press