Criminal Justice

Former acting AG for Alaska is charged with sexual abuse of minor on mock trial team

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Brady Building

The Brady Building in downtown Anchorage, Alaska, houses the office of the Alaska attorney general. Photo by Wonderlane, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Clyde “Ed” Sniffen, a former acting attorney general for Alaska, has been indicted on three felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor following accusations that he had a sexual relationship with a teenage girl that began during a mock trial trip to New Orleans.

Anchorage, Alaska, grand jurors indicted Sniffen last week, report the Anchorage Daily News and KTOO.

Sniffen had resigned as acting attorney general in January 2021 after the Anchorage Daily News partnered with ProPublica to report the accusations against Sniffen. The report that alleged he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl that began in 1991 during the moot court trip.

The age of consent in Alaska is 16, but a law enacted in 1990 bars adults who teach, counsel or coach teens who are 16 and 17 from having sexual relationships with them.

Sniffen had been appointed on an acting basis in 2020 to replace Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson, who acknowledged creating an “uncomfortable workplace environment” by sending more than 550 text messages to the cellphone of a junior employee.

Sniffen was first charged in May by a special prosecutor. Sniffen’s lawyer had sought dismissal of those charges last month on due process grounds, according to the Anchorage Daily News.

The lawyer’s motion argued that police first learned of the allegations in 1994 but closed the case because the teen in the relationship did not cooperate. The motion also claimed that Sniffen was not in a position of power over the teen.

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