A high profile case about an alleged child rape from 1978 is at an impasse because of Alaska’s old statute of limitations.
When writer David Holthouse retold his story of being raped as a child to lawmakers in February, he had no idea it would set off a chain of events that would lead to filing a police report and publicly naming his rapist in the Anchorage Press last week.
Holthouse had never publicly identified the person who raped him in Eagle River when he was 7 years old.
“I did not want to destroy his life by naming him,” he said.
But Holthouse’s 2004 article “Stalking the Bogeyman” gives clues, including one to throw people off. According to Holthouse, the perpetrator was a star athlete at Chugiak High School and was profiled in the Anchorage Daily News. As an adult, he moved to Broomfield, Colo., a Denver-area suburb. Holthouse also wrote that his rapist was about 17 at the time of the incident. Now, Holthouse said, he deliberately misrepresented the age and his perpetrator was actually 14 at the time.
In the story, Holthouse describes the traumatic experience, his plans to kill his rapist and finally confronting him as an adult.
“After meeting him in person and hearing him swear to me that he had never raped a child before or after he perpetrated the crime on me, I decided that it was possible that he was telling the truth,” Holthouse said.
There was a caveat though. Holthouse followed up with a letter, which said: “If any other victims come forward at any point in the future, I’m going to write a second article and this one will name you.”
Nearly 11 years after writing that letter, Holthouse was in the Alaska State Capitol Building sharing his story. He spoke in support of a law that would require public schools to teach sexual abuse prevention.
After the talk, Holthouse said two people in the Capitol told him they might know other victims of his rapist.
“I was very careful about the way I dealt with the situation,” Holthouse said. “I sort of heard them out. In both conversations, it got to the point where they said, ‘I’m going to say the name and you tell me if it’s the same person.’”
It was. Holthouse says he felt relieved.
“I guess the relief was just in finally knowing. The question of whether or not he was telling me the truth – it haunted me for more than a decade and I felt like I finally know,” Holthouse said.
Since that day in the Capitol, Holthouse said he’s wanted to write the story naming him, but “I needed to meet one on one with people and have them tell me their stories for me to feel like I had the information to go through with it.”
He tracked them down.
“Eagle River in the late 1970s and the 1980s was an even smaller town than it is now, so once I had a couple of leads and a couple of names of kids, now adults, but kids who ran in the same social circle, it took me a couple months but I could sort of gently reach out to them and point them to my original piece and say, ‘Is this something that you would like to sit down and talk to me about by any chance?’”
Holthouse says he’s convinced his rapist sexually assaulted two other boys and a girl. He’s heard about other suspicious incidents as well.
KTOO could not reach the man for comment. According to property records, he owns a home in Broomfield, Colo. Holthouse says he still lives there. Phone numbers listed for the man were out of service. He’s not listed in sex offender registries in Alaska or Colorado.
Holthouse wrote “Outing the Bogeyman” in the Anchorage Press for himself “to just finally tell on him, just to finally give that 7-year-old a voice and tell on him.”
“And to let other survivors know “no matter how much time has passed, when someone rapes you when you’re a kid, they give you the power to avenge yourself and that power is you know their name and you can use it,” Holthouse said.
It could be online, it could be in a letter, it could be confronting the person, it could be reporting them to the police. Holthouse has done all of these things.
He recently reported the rape to the Anchorage Police Department.
“My report alone is not going to prompt a criminal investigation let alone an arrest or prosecution, but they said reports like this are still important because if other victims were to come forward it would help corroborate their accounts,” Holthouse said.
In 1978, the year Holthouse says he was assaulted, the statute of limitations on child rape was ten years. Lawmakers eliminated that time constraint in September of 1992. There’s currently no statute of limitation for child rape cases.
Holthouse’s case may not be viable for prosecution. But if someone comes forward with an incident that occurred after 1982, that’s fair game.