A Kwethluk man is accused of severely hurting his teenage daughter last Friday by dragging her behind his ATV. The case raises larger questions about child abuse in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, and what residents can do to prevent it.
On Friday morning, Varlaam Jackson’s daughter refused to go home with him. According to an affidavit filed by State Trooper Anthony Rallo, the 16-year-old had been drinking and kept jumping off her father’s four-wheeler, trying to get away.
The third time she did this, Jackson, age 54, allegedly tied his daughter’s hands to the rack of his four-wheeler. Troopers claim that he dragged his daughter home along Kwethluk’s gravel road for up to three-quarters of a mile.
Jackson’s daughter was seriously injured. Paramedics medevaced her to Anchorage, and Trooper Rallo says that she’ll need to undergo several surgeries. Jackson was arrested and has been charged with assault in the first degree.
The incident shocked many residents. The Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta suffers from high rates of child abuse and domestic violence, but this particular level of violence is somewhat rare.
"I don’t think this is the level of abuse we see or hear about. The underlying factors that led to this behavior stems to something deeper, and that’s very troubling," said Monica Charles, a Guardian ad Litem for the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Office of Public Advocacy. An experienced social worker and child welfare advocate, Charles says that this kind of violence can stem from feelings of powerlessness and underlying trauma.
"In a lot of these instances, people don’t have the access to counseling," she said. "They may not have the support in their own village of their family or their spouse. The progression may be to act out on somebody who you can overpower. I think that’s a big part of cases like this, where there’s a power struggle."
Charles added that she hopes Jackson and his daughter receive the individual and group counseling they may need to recover. Jackson’s next hearing is scheduled for August 14.