ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A judge dismissed a sex abuse case against former acting Alaska Attorney General Clyde “Ed” Sniffen, citing the statute of limitations in place when the alleged abuse happened over 30 years ago.
The case, thrown out on Friday, involved allegations that Sniffen, 58, sexually abused a then-17-year-old student in 1991 when he was 27 and the alleged victim’s coach of her high school’s mock trial competition team in Anchorage. Sniffen had pleaded not guilty.
Alaska does not currently have a statute of limitations in place for sexual abuse of minors. However, in an order on Friday, Superior Court Judge Peter Ramgren said that in 1991 there was a five-year limit on bringing charges of sexually abusing minors, the Anchorage Daily News reported. He said that changes made to the statute of limitations by state lawmakers for certain crimes in 1992 and 2001 did not apply to Sniffen’s case, siding with the defendant’s lawyer.
Sniffen was appointed Alaska’s top law enforcement officer by Republican Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Jan. 18, 2021, after his predecessor, Kevin Clarkson, resigned following allegations he sent unwanted text messages to a female state employee. But Sniffen himself resigned just 11 days after his appointment, citing personal reasons.
The Anchorage Daily News and ProPublica reported Sniffen’s resignation was announced as they were reporting on allegations of sexual misconduct with the Anchorage high school student three decades earlier. A grand jury indicted him on three felony counts of sexual abuse of a minor last year.
The alleged victim, Nikki Dougherty White, called the ruling a “huge disappointment” but said she did not regret going public with her story after learning that Sniffen had been appointed to the position.
“Because the truth is important,” White said. “And because Alaska has too long been a place that favors abusers, that does not provide a safe space for victims, for women, for girls, for anybody who doesn’t fit, you know, the white male profile.”