Foster father accused of harming foster child faced prior allegations

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Documents obtained by KTUU show Alaska State Troopers investigating Robert Akens uncovered complaints about the retired educator that occurred when he was working as a school teacher.

Akens became a foster parent in 2013, more than a decade after leaving his career as a teacher. He was arrested last month on charges he sexually abused his foster daughter.

While looking into those allegations, troopers discovered "there were previous allegations made regarding Mr. Akens for inappropriately touching four children while he worked as a teacher in an elementary school," according to an investigation report.

The October, 2018 statement came as the Mat-Su Borough School District was already looking into abuse allegations that a different longtime elementary teacher, Lukis Nighswonger, had sexually abused students.

Nighswonger and Akens both worked at Iditarod Elementary School in Wasilla. Akens retired in 2002 after working there eight years. Before that he taught in Adak. Nighswonger worked at Iditarod Elementary for several years until his arrest last fall.

Civil lawsuits stemming from Nighswonger's conduct accuse the school district of failing to protect children. At least one parent has said they weren't taken seriously when they reported Nighswonger's behavior to school staff.

Alaska State Troopers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Mat-Su Borough School District confirmed Akens worked at the school from 1994-2002, but declined to confirm whether Akens had faced complaints while employed, stating through a spokesperson "We are fully cooperating with law enforcement in the ongoing investigation."