Bethel Principal, Accused Of Sending Sexual Texts To Girl, Goes Before A Judge

Dec 17, 2019

The Anchorage federal courthouse.
Credit KDLG

A Bethel elementary school principal charged with online enticement of a minor and transferring obscene material to a minor made his initial appearance in federal court in Anchorage on Tuesday, Dec. 17.

Agents with the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force arrested Christopher Carmichael, principal of Bethel’s Gladys Jung Elementary School, in Bethel on December 11. The agents seized Carmichael’s school computers and told school officials that no children were in danger.

The charges against Carmichael say Bethel police began investigating him in June when a former student reported Carmichael had touched her inappropriately in the past. In November the charges say Carmichael was caught having explicit online conversations with a minor and later an undercover FBI agent pretending to be her cousin.

On Tuesday, Jolene Goeden, the FBI agent who had posed as the underage girl, ushered Carmichael into the courtroom at the Anchorage federal courthouse.

Carmichael, with dark graying hair, wore a typical orange jumpsuit from Anchorage Correctional Complex and spoke briefly with a lawyer from the Federal Public Defender Agency while filling out paperwork. A judge asked Carmichael if he understood the charges against him.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Rearden at the Federal Courthouse in Anchorage in December 2019.
Credit Casey Grove / Alaska Public Media

Carmichael said, “Yes, sir,” to each of the judge’s questions and later thanked him for his time.

After Magistrate Judge Matthew Scoble officially appointed the public defenders to represent Carmichael, he turned to the issue of detention, which does not include the possibility of bail in federal court.

“The charges are, obviously, very serious,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle Rearden told the judge, arguing that Carmichael should be jailed to protect the public and to make sure he did not run.

Carmichael’s attorney did not argue, and the judge ordered Carmichael to remain behind bars.

Carmichael’s attorney, Burke Wonnell, declined to comment after the hearing, except to say that rumors about Carmichael having tried to commit suicide were false.

Rearden, the prosecutor, said Carmichael did have a health problem that contributed to delays getting him to court to hear the charges.

Rearden also addressed a question about why it took from June, when the report started the investigation, to December when agents arrested Carmichael.

He said securing warrants to monitor a person’s communications can take time, and law enforcement wanted to build a solid case.

“I’m confident that it was pursued as diligently as the Bethel Police Department were able to do it,” Rearden said.

Carmichael’s next court date is set for Friday, Dec. 20.

The following resources are available to community members for emotional support during this time:

  • LKSD Lead Social Worker: (907) 543-4874 or (907) 545-4429
  • Bethel Family Clinic: (907) 543-3773
  • YKHC Behavioral Health Department: (907) 543-6100

Additionally, any person with information regarding the criminal investigation of Carmichael is encouraged to contact the FBI at (907) 276-4441.