ANCHORAGE (KTUU) A prominent Alaska storyteller and performer faces felony charges after police say he had sex with a 14-year-old boy he met on Craigslist.
Alaska artist and performer Jack J. Dalton, 43, faces felony charges of sexual abuse of a minor and attempted sexual abuse of a minor. Rick Schleyer / KTUU.
Jack J. Dalton, 43, appeared in court Wednesday in Anchorage. He is accused of visiting the teenager’s home for sex in March and later admitting in a text message that he knew the boy was underage.
Police say Dalton told investigators he previously had sex with a different juvenile he met online five to six years earlier and has used software to anonymously view child pornography.
Dalton’s celebrated work, such as Raven's Radio Hour, has explored Alaska culture and tackled themes of boarding school abuse in statewide and national productions. His website describes the artist as a "professional storyteller, writer and teacher." He was the recipient of a 2008 Expressive Arts grant from the National Museum of the American Indian, among other honors.
Dalton was arrested April 26, when police say he had arranged to meet the boy a second time but was greeted by police outside his apartment.
The teen had portrayed himself on a Craigslist post as 19 years old and arranged to meet Dalton and another man on separate occasions, according to an April criminal complaint that charged Dalton with second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.
That complaint was expanded this week to include an additional charge of attempted sexual abuse and to describe details of Dalton's alleged admissions to police.
In a text message to an undercover investigator who was posing as the boy, Dalton said he suspected the teen was not really 19 and guessed he was closer to 14, the boy's true age, according to a detective.
“I do still want to get together, but we need to understand how dangerous this is for me," Dalton texted, thinking he was writing to the boy, according to the charges. "If anyone found out, I could go to jail.”
TEEN'S MOTHER FOUND TEXTS, PHOTOS ON PHONE
According to police, the felony case against Dalton began March 30 when a detective began investigating the possible sexual abuse. The boy’s mother reported finding sexually explicit photos and text messages involving the boy and two men, according to a complaint written by Det. J. David DeLesline.
The boy told his mother he had solicited sex online. The charges say that Dalton and another man visited the teen’s house for sexual encounters on separate dates in late March. It was not immediately clear if the second man also has been charged.
The teen said he ignored subsequent texts from both men and had not discussed age with either man.
On April 15, police texted Dalton’s phone, pretending to be the teen. Dalton “acknowledged that he remembered me … and agreed to ‘hookup sometime soon,’” according to the charges.
Using the teen's phone, the detective sent Dalton a text saying that he was not actually 19. The following exchange is described in the original criminal complaint:
Det. DeLesline: “Just by seeing me how old do you think I am?”
Dalton: “Honestly, I can’t tell nowadays. I would have guessed 14. But that just a guess.”
Det. DeLesline: “Good guess. I’m almost 15. That makes me feel better that you’re ok with my age. I’m looking forward to next week.”
The charges say that Dalton suggested they meet at his home.
Det. DeLesline, under the guise of being the teenage boy, texted Dalton again and arranged to meet April 26. On that day, police waited outside Dalton’s apartment.
Police sent a text saying the teen was outside the building hoping to come inside, the charges say. “K. On my way down,” Dalton texted in reply.
Police confronted Dalton and took him back to his apartment, where he was interviewed and arrested. Dalton told a detective he knew the boy was under age and that the place where the sex took place was "a kid's bedroom," according to the charging document.
RELEASED ON BAIL, NO USE OF COMPUTERS ALLOWED
Dalton was in custody Wednesday when he appeared before a magistrate judge for a bail hearing. The judge granted a public defender's request to appoint Dalton's 75-year-old mother as his third-party custodian.
“I don’t want him to be in jail. I can take care of him until this is complete,” Linda Dalton told the court.
Prosecutor Arne Soldwedel questioned the mother's ability to supervise her son 24 hours a day, seven days a week, particularly when it comes to keeping him away from minor males, computers and smartphones, which are conditions of his bail.
“At some point, people need to sleep. I don’t trust this man at any time of the day,” Soldwedel said.
Jack Dalton spent the 25-minute hearing with his hands clasped, looking down.
Wearing a blue fleece jacket and jeans, Linda Dalton stood at the wooden podium before the judge. She said she was willing to be the eyes and ears of the court as far as watching her son while he’s out on bail.
As a public safety precaution, Soldewedel asked the judge to order Linda Dalton remove her computer from the East Anchorage home where she’ll be sharing with her son.
Magistrate Judge Hanley Robinson asked Dalton if she would be willing to do that.
Dalton appeared reluctant at first, saying she could discontinue her Internet service but the request to remove the computer entirely seemed “kind of crazy.”
Robinson agreed that “in this day and age” it’s difficult to be without Internet access to do necessary things like pay bills. She decided to allow Linda Dalton to keep her computer but ordered her to change the passwords so that her son cannot access the Internet.
Soldewedel asked Dalton if any children, particularly teenagers, live near the Carnaby Way home. She said yes. Soldewedel noted that people who sexually abuse minors have high rates of recidivism and that Dalton admitted to police that he had sex with a juvenile boy five of six years ago, someone he met on the Internet.
Robinson asked Dalton if she understood the seriousness of the offenses her son is charged with committing. The mother responded that she did.
By the end of the hearing, the prosecutor did not object to having Dalton’s mother as his third-party custodian.
On her way out of jail courtroom, Dalton was asked what she thought of the situation in which her son finds himself.
“I don’t know anything other than what the attorney says,” she said.
The father of the alleged victim participated in the hearing by telephone. Asked by the judge if he had anything to say about the bail conditions, a man identified only as S.B. said, “If there is any contact, I will immediately report it to authorities.”
Dalton was released to his mother's supervision this afternoon.
NOTE: An earlier version of this story said Dalton pleaded not guilty to the charges. While Dalton's public defender stated his intent to plead not guilty, and the magistrate judge told Dalton that she would enter a not guilty plea on Dalton's behalf, a plea cannot formally be entered on a felony case until after an indictment or waiver of indictment.