Nome man charged with 31 counts of child sex abuse
By Diana Haecker
Last week, Nome Police arrested and charged Isaac Ozenna Sr., 74, of Nome with 31 counts of sexual abuse of minors and coercion, for alleged sexual assaults children, going back more than 30 years, involving six victims.
A grand jury indicted Ozenna on 11 counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor in the first degree, an unclassified crime; on 18 counts of Sexual Abuse of a Minor in the second degree, a class B felony offense, and two counts of coercion, a class C felony offense.
According to the indictment, six different victims were identified, ranging in age between four-years-old and 12-years-old at the time of the abuse. The indictment describes Ozenna engaging in sexual contact with the minors, including intercourse, penetration and touching their private parts over and under their clothes.
Ozenna was arrested on May 4 and had his first felony appearance in court on Thursday, May 5. Judge Romano DiBenedetto read the charges and summarized statutory penalty ranges of sexual abuse of a minor in the first degree carrying a sentence range of 20-30 years in prison, sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree, having a sentencing range of 5-15 years of jail and coercion, a maximum sentence of five years in prison.
DiBenedetto then inquired if Ozenna has legal representation. Ozenna qualified to be represented by a public defender and was assigned an attorney on the spot.
Ozenna entered a not guilty plea. Bail was set at $250,000 with a Third-Party Custodian. As of press time, Ozenna Sr. was lodged at AMCC.
According to Nome Police Chief Mike Heintzelman, the investigation into the cases came about when Investigator William Crockett looked into reports of sexual assault filed in 2020 with NPD. In late March, Crockett said, one officer at NPD made him aware of cases connected to the alleged perpetrator Isaac Ozenna Sr. Through the regular course of investigation, he found more reports that detailed allegation of sex abuse. Crockett said that most victims were identified and found through interviews with other victims.
In the course of the month-long investigation, they found eight victims. The sexual assaults on two victims, Crockett said, went back 50 years. This put these two cases outside of the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, Crockett explained, and they could not be included in the cases brought to the grand jury. Prior to 1987 Alaska law put a statute of limitations on sex crimes, but after 1987 the law has changed and there is no limitation. Because the crimes fell before that 1987 date, the statute of limitation applied. According to the indictment, the last known victim was assaulted in 2014.
According to Crockett, the crimes all occurred in Nome, but some victims have moved out of town, and live out of state or somewhere else in Alaska. The Wasilla and Ketchikan police departments assisted with the investigation.
Crockett joined NPD in January after he retired from the Portland police where he worked for the past 28 years. Of those years, he was a detective for 21 years, including six years as a child abuse detective and another six as sex assault detective. “The current model we use here in Nome is one that I used in Portland, so it’s very familiar,” he said.
He said the model at NPD involves the investigator and the victim advocate, Sharon Sparks.
Sparks assists the victim to walk them through the process and connect them with resources, if needed, Crockett said.
“It’s not an easy process for the victim,” he said. “It can be difficult and frightening, and Sharon Sparks is instrumental in helping the victim understand the process.”
Crockett encourages any person who knows of similar cases to contact him. “We are very interested in hearing from them, even if it’s not related to this case,” he said. “There is a lot of interest in the department to investigate those crimes.”
This is a change from how the NPD operated in the not-so-distant past. For years, NPD has failed to adequately investigate violent crimes and sexual assaults. Over the past few years, the backlog of hundreds of unsolved cases has been mostly cleared and more attention was directed to attempting to properly staff and train the police force.
“Not even related to this case if other victims have more stories of similar cases, or know of cases that have not come forward, we’re interested in hearing from them,” said Crockett.
If there are any more victims or if anybody knows anything about this case please call William Crockett at 907-304-1178.