Alaska Digest

Posted: Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Police search for missing man

JUNEAU - Police divers unsuccessfully searched Auke Bay Tuesday for a 45-year-old man who has been missing since Friday night.

Charles Jacobs resides on a boat in Auke Bay with his wife, police reported. At 5:18 p.m. Saturday his 37-year-old wife reported he had left the boat sometime Friday night and had not returned.

While searching for Jacobs, Juneau police are looking for anyone who may have information about his whereabouts. The department can be reached at 586-0600.

Jacobs was described as white, standing about 6 feet and weighing about 175 pounds. He has light brown hair and was last seen wearing a sweatshirt of unknown color and blue jeans.

Boat found damaged, man found dead

SITKA - The operator of a 26-foot fiberglass boat that collided with a breakwater west of Thompson Harbor was found dead Monday night, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The Coast Guard identified the man as Ronald Richter. No age or residence was available. A Coast Guard helicopter crew dispatched from Sitka located the man and directed search vessels to him.

Richter was pronounced dead at the scene, the Coast Guard reported.

The command center in Juneau received a request at 9:15 p.m. Monday from Sitka Volunteer Search and Rescue to assist in the search.

The volunteer search vessels had located a heavily damaged boat. Although the radio reportedly was on and the throttles were full forward, no one was aboard.

Personnel from Sitka will investigate the accident, the Coast Guard said.

Palmer constituents turn in recall petition

ANCHORAGE - The group hoping to boot state Sen. Scott Ogan out of office for favoring a methane gas drilling company over constituents turned in its recall application and first round of signatures Tuesday.

The Ogan Recall Committee submitted to the Division of Elections 2,063 signatures. The application required 1,273 names, representing 10 percent of those who voted in the last District H general election.

The division will consult with the Department of Law to decide whether to accept the application and prepare petition booklets. The officials will review signatures and decide whether proper grounds for recall were listed.

"I'm going to try to be as expeditious as possible," said division director Laura Glaiser. State law does not set a deadline for the review, Glaiser said.

The group claims Ogan, R-Palmer, should be recalled because of corruption in office, neglect of duty and "a failure in ethical judgment that shows lack of fitness to serve in public office, incompetence and neglect of duty."

The displeasure with Ogan is focused on his former employment as a $40,000-per-year consultant for Evergreen Resources, a company proposing to explore for coal bed methane on thousands of acres in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.

Ogan contends the accusations are unfounded.

"The things I've learned from this most recent experience is that when you're a strong leader, you need to turn around every once in awhile and see if your supporters are still following," Ogan said.

No state legislator has been recalled, Glaiser said, and division staff have no record of a previous application to do so.

Jury awards abuse victims $427,000

ANCHORAGE - Four girls who said they were molested by a former Salvation Army minister in Kenai have won $427,000 in damages.

In Monday's verdict, the jury in the civil trial also declared the minister, Troy Trickel, his wife Debbie and the Salvation Army responsible for the abuse.

Trickel was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison after he was convicted in 2001 of a consolidated charge of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

The plaintiffs in the civil trial include three sisters and another girl who say they were fondled by Trickel at the Salvation Army's Kenai church on separate occasions in 1999. The girls, and the sisters' mother, sued the Salvation Army and Trickel soon after his conviction.

Still to be resolved is whether the girls will be awarded additional damages during a punitive phase of the trial. Attorneys will begin arguing that Wednesday.

"Everyone feels again a combination of pride and relief these girls hung in there as long as it took to establish what happened to them," said Tom Owens, a plaintiffs' attorney.

During closing statements, defense attorneys argued that two of the girls were lying about their abuse and that the girls and their attorneys were exaggerating the degree of emotional and mental anguish they suffered.

But the jury agreed with the plaintiffs that Trickel, 47, molested all four girls and that the former minister, his wife and his organization caused severe emotional problems for the girls. The jury also found that Debbie Trickel and the Salvation Army were negligent in the way they responded to allegations against Trickel.

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