Alaska Digest

Posted: Friday, November 05, 2004

Woman charged with sexual abuse of boy

JUNEAU - A 20-year-old woman allegedly found having sexual relations with a 15-year-old boy has been charged with second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

Rosita M. Brown and the alleged victim in the case had been warned in June by a Juneau police officer that she could be charged with the felony if the two engaged in sexual intercourse, according to information Assistant District Attorney Doug Gardner provided the court to establish foundation for the charge.

The boy's mother contacted police, saying she recently walked in on her son and Brown engaging in sexual intercourse, Gardner wrote.

Second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, a crime that could carry a prison sentence of up to 10 years, does not involve the question of consent. Brown is charged under a section of Alaska law that defines the offense as actions of a person, 16 or older, having sexual intercourse with a minor 13, 14 or 15 years old and at least three years younger.

Juneau District Court Judge Peter B. Froehlich set Brown's bail at $1,000 and ordered that she have no contact with the alleged victim. Froehlich also appointed the public defender's office to represent Brown.

Brown told the judge she has been working at a $7.50-per-hour job with a preschool development center for two months and lives in her car.

Meeting planned on killer whale family

ANCHORAGE - Biologists seeking answers to why a group of killer whales is shrinking have planned a public meeting to gather ideas on how to keep the whales alive.

The meeting on the fate and conservation of the AT-1 group of killer whales is scheduled for Wednesday at the Anchorage Federal Building. Biologists and managers say they want information about the whales and their habits.

The AT-1 group has lost more than half its members over the past 15 years, dropping from 22 animals in the 1980s to seven or eight still alive this summer.

The group was listed as depleted under the Marine Mammal Protection Act in July.

Writing a conservation plan is the next step. But it's not clear what, if anything, can be done.

"We want recommendations and management measures that might be implemented, and research that would address the decline," said Kaja Brix, head of protected resources for the National Marine Fisheries Service in Alaska.

Seafood processors vote to raise taxes

ANCHORAGE - Beginning next year, thousands of Alaska commercial salmon fishermen will no longer have to pay a 1 percent marketing tax on their catches.

That's because companies that process seafood - not just salmon but all species of fish and shellfish - voted in a recent special election to pay increased taxes to support the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute, the Juneau-based state agency that promotes Alaska goods across the United States and in several foreign countries.

For the processors, voting to increase the tax rate from 0.3 percent to 0.5 percent of product value means they retain overwhelming dominance of the ASMI board of directors. Currently, the processors hold five seats with fishermen holding two. Had the election failed, the board would have been expanded to include two more fishermen's seats.

Search under way for missing biologist

JUNEAU - Searchers Thursday were looking for a U.S. Forest Service fisheries biologist missing east of Ketchikan.

Ricardo Sainz, 42, of Ketchikan, was missing at Bakewell Lake about 40 miles east of Ketchikan.

A spokesman for the Coast Guard command center in Juneau said Sainz and two other Forest Service employees were working in a boat on the lake.

They apparently floated too close to a creek draining the lake, which included a waterfall, and were forced to abandon the boat.

The two unidentified employees swam to shore.

Sainz did not reach shore.

Troopers look for driver who damaged bridge

ANCHORAGE - A state agency and a crime-fighting organization will pay a $6,000 reward for information about a driver who bashed an Interior Alaska bridge in August.

State officials believe a truck carrying a high load of construction equipment slammed into cross pieces of the Johnson River Bridge near Dot Lake, a community of 33 about 50 miles northwest of Tok.

The Johnson River is a tributary of the Tanana River.

Temporary repairs have cost $250,000, said state Department of Transportation spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy. The agency estimates the interruption in commerce cost another $250,000.

The driver did not report the damage. DOT is offering $5,000 and Crimestoppers $1,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.

NOAA fines Kodiak fish processor

KODIAK - A fish processor has been fined $71,000 for failing to have a required federal groundfish observer on site early this year.

The enforcement branch of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration settled a violation notice with the manager and owner of Kodiak processor Global Seafoods for violations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act.

The federal agency said Global Seafoods did not have a required NOAA Fisheries-certified groundfish observer on site for part of the first quarter of 2004 and bought about 22,000 pounds of groundfish, mostly cod, pollock and arrowtooth flounder, in violation of Gulf of Alaska maximum retainable amounts.

The requirement for observers depends on how much fish processors they take during a calendar month. Global missed coverage for the first and second month and the better part of March, said Nathan Lagerwey of NOAA.

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