Criminal Justice

Brady Building

The Brady Building, in downtown Anchorage, houses the the office of the Alaska attorney general. Photo from Wikimedia Commons.

Acting Alaska Attorney General Ed Sniffen resigned Jan. 27 before the publication of an article alleging he had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old girl that began on a moot court trip to New Orleans in 1991.

Sniffen was coaching the moot court team when he allegedly began the relationship with Nikki Dougherty White, now 47 years old, report the Anchorage Daily News, in partnership with Pro Publica, and the New York Times.

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.

White said she continued to date Sniffen for about two years after the relationship began. They lived together in Anchorage after she turned 18. Both eventually married other people.

White told the Anchorage Daily News that Sniffen had purchased alcoholic drinks for her on the New Orleans trip. When the newspaper asked if the sex was consensual, she replied. “Yes, with the caveat that I was drunk. I was 17. And he was in a position of authority.” Sniffen was 27 years old at the time.

A special prosecutor will investigate. Gov. Mike Dunleavy previously said he would nominate Sniffen to be the permanent attorney general, but Sniffen withdrew himself from consideration when he resigned. Dunleavy said he was unaware of the accusation.

Sniffen’s resignation follows that of his predecessor, Kevin Clarkson, who acknowledged creating an “uncomfortable workplace environment” by sending more than 550 text messages to the cellphone of a junior employee. The texts told the woman she was beautiful and included dozens of kissing face emojis.