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Former Akiachak teacher sentenced to 86 years in prison for child sex abuse

The Nora Guinn Justice Complex in Bethel, Alaska.
MaryCait Dolan
The Nora Guinn Justice Complex in Bethel, Alaska.

A former Akiachak teacher has been sentenced to serve 86 years in prison for multiple counts of sexual abuse of a minor and enticement.

Fifty-year-old John Hammonds was a sixth-grade teacher in Akiachak and worked for the Yupiit School District for four years until his arrest in late 2021. Hammonds also previously taught at the district’s school in Tuluksak.

In addition to his time in the Yupiit School District, Hammonds’ Facebook page shows that he previously taught at Knik Elementary School in Wasilla and was also a teacher in Nibley, Utah.

According to a press release from the state, Hammonds’ convictions relate to four separate instances of sexual abuse involving two victims that occurred in Akiachak in 2021 and in Wasilla in 2019. The state said that the abuse in Akiachak occurred in a school classroom and at Hammonds’ home, where he allegedly installed a peep hole in a bathroom door to allow him to watch children bathing together.

Hammonds was a self-proclaimed pastor in Akiachak and used a “revelation from God” to justify his actions, according to the state.

In an intensive three-week trial that began in late July 2023, the state showed 92 exhibits and called 32 witnesses. These included each of Hammond’s victims, his ex-wife, and one of their children. The defense called just one witness.

Retired Superior Court Judge Nelson Traverso, who came out of retirement to preside over the March 5 sentencing, sentenced Hammonds for one count of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree, three counts of sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, and one count each of enticement and unlawful contact. Hammonds received a total sentence of 111 years with 25 years suspended.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that Judge Traverso had convicted, rather than sentenced Hammonds for the crimes.

Evan Erickson is a reporter at KYUK who has previously worked as a copy editor, audio engineer and freelance journalist.
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