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Melvin Andrew sentenced to 12 years in prison for sexually abusing a minor

US Attorney's Office

On July 18, a man from the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta was sentenced to over 12 years in prison for sexually abusing a minor.

According to court documents, Melvin Andrew was indicted in September 2021 for a number of offenses, including coercion, coercion and enticement of a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, the production of child pornography, the receipt of child pornography, and transfer of obscene material to a minor.

“Those are all federal felony crimes in that indictment that arises from events that occurred between 2020 and 2021, where Mr. Andrew sexually abused a minor victim in rural Alaska,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth Brickey who prosecuted the case. He said that it was a team effort to build the case.

“It was really a cooperative effort between Alaska State Troopers, who were the first law enforcement on the ground to contact the victim, as well as the victim's family and collected evidence. And that case was then referred to the FBI here in Anchorage, to continue the investigation into Mr. Andrew, and ultimately to bring up the federal charges,” Brickey said.

The prosecutor said that there were no challenges as far as the strength of the evidence, but he did say that there are other factors to consider when his office decides to offer a plea agreement or resolve something outside of trial.

“In cases like these, you know, one of the chief concerns is the impact of a trial on a minor victim. We don't we don't want to retraumatize any minor victims any more than they already have been. And often having to testify, or being called as a witness, or simply having the trial go on and names or events be mentioned and, and relitigated in public can be quite traumatizing,” Brickey said.

With all of that in mind, Brickey said that his office often will resolve these cases by plea if they can ensure justice is served for the defendant as well as for the community.

Pursuing cases of sexual exploitation or sexual abuse of a minor in Alaska is important to Brickey. “I think it's a huge problem in our communities around Alaska. It doesn't matter whether it's in Anchorage or in a small community off the road system. People who engage in this type of behavior, who victimize children can't be tolerated. That behavior can't be tolerated and they need to be held accountable,” he said.

Brickey also wants to send a message to Alaskans.

“I hope that this case sends a clear message that resources are being deployed to ensure that children all over the state, regardless of what community they find themselves, are protected. And that perpetrators of crimes against children, wherever they reside, will be brought to justice and held accountable,” Brickey said.

Brickey emphasized that this case was brought to the attention of law enforcement by family members of the victim. He encouraged community members, if they hear about incidents like this or about any child at risk, to inform law enforcement immediately.

Francisco Martínezcuello was the KYUK News Reporting Fellow from November 2022 through January 2024. He is a graduate of UC Berkeley School of Journalism. He is also a veteran of the United States Marine Corps.