Bethel Resident Found Not Guilty Of Sexual Assault

Dec 15, 2017

The State of Alaska courthouse in Bethel, Alaska.
Credit Dean Swope/KYUK

Last year, Bethel resident Garrett Walters was charged with sexually assaulting a family member. A jury found him to be innocent of all charges on Tuesday evening.

Walters, age 31, was tried on charges of sexually abusing his wife’s sister over the course of several years, beginning when she was 13. He was also accused of trying to rape her while she slept.

In his closing argument, however, Assistant Public Defender John Putikka argued that the sex Walters had with the alleged victim was consensual, and did not begin until she was over 18. They were having an affair, he told the jury, and the alleged victim became upset when Walters ended it. In an interview following the trial, Putikka added that the alleged victim had made contradictory statements to State Troopers about the assaults, and that three of her immediate family members corroborated Walters’ account of what happened.

When asked about the verdict, investigating State Trooper Nicholas Hayes said that while he believes Walters is guilty, “this is our justice system. We did our job and the jury did theirs.”

Walters was found to be innocent of six counts of sexual assault in varying degrees. He maintained his innocence throughout the trial.