An Alaska State Trooper based in Soldotna is jailed on charges that he sexually abused two girls, and authorities are asking the public for information about other possible victims.
State troopers announced the arrest Wednesday afternoon at a news conference in Anchorage.
Troopers say 39-year-old Benjamin Strachan had been working for the department since June 2020. He moved to Soldotna for the job. On Saturday, troopers said, Kenai Police notified them of an allegation that Strachan had sexually abused a minor. Troopers say they immediately opened an investigation that found probable cause that Strachan had abused multiple victims over the past year.
Strachan was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
He’s been charged with one count of first-degree sexual abuse of a minor and six counts of second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
At Strachan’s initial court appearance on Thursday, Assistant Attorney General Jenna Gruenstein with the state’s Office of Special Prosecutions said the abuse of one of the victims was contained to one night. The other spanned over a year.
“The counts that are before the court currently are representative,” Gruenstein said. “They’re not encompassing all of the alleged activity because frankly there were just too many instances to charge each count and each activity separately.”
According to charging documents, one of the alleged victims, a 14-year-old, told her parents that Strachan had sexually abused her in February. The charges say she told her parents about the incident months after it happened after attending a class about not being ashamed to talk about experiences with abuse.
The alleged victim’s parents reported the incident to Kenai police Saturday night and the case was referred to the Alaska State Troopers the next morning. Because Strachan was assigned to the Soldotna post, the charges say, troopers referred the case to the Wasilla Child Abuse Investigation Unit.
The alleged victim also told investigators she had seen Strachan inappropriately touch another girl. The charges say further investigation revealed a longer-term pattern of sexual abuse.
Public Safety Commissioner Jim Cockrell, himself a Soldotna resident, said at the news conference Wednesday that he was sickened by the allegations.
“I’d like to acknowledge the victim for having the bravery to come forward and bring these allegations to light,” Cockrell said. “Anyone who believes they may have been a victim of Strachan or has information that would be helpful to the investigation is encouraged to contact the Alaska State Troopers in Soldotna.”
The judge at Strachan’s court appearance Thursday deemed him a flight risk, as he has few ties to the community, and set bail at $200,000 cash.
According to the Department of Public Safety, Strachan is on administrative leave without pay. He remained in custody Thursday at Wildwood Correctional Center.
The Alaska State Troopers say they’re investigating whether there are other victims and are asking those with more information to call the Soldotna office at 907-262-4453.
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Editor’s note: This story was updated with additional information from Benjamin Strachan’s initial court appearance on Thursday.