ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Lukis Nighswonger, a 36-year-old former teacher from Wasilla, now faces an accusation he sexually abused four children in his classroom between 2008 and 2016. The investigation is not complete and police and school officials continue to encourage other potential victims to come forward.
Originally charged by a complaint brought by the Wasilla Police Department, Nighswonger was indicted Oct. 4 by a grand jury, which included a previously unknown victim in its return.
Two girls, currently ages 14 and 19, and two boys, currently ages 12 and 18, have come forward about past abuses experienced while in the classroom with Nighswonger. All but one of the children were students in his class. The other child, who was older when the abuse allegedly occurred, would visit Nighswonger after school.
Dan Bennett, The Wasilla Police investigator assigned to the case and who is monitoring a dedicated phone line for known or suspected incidents involving Nighswonger, was among the witnesses presented to the grand jury.
The newest victim, a boy, was abused and would have been a fourth grader during the 2015-2016 school year, according to the indictment and prosecutor Brittany Dunlop.
Nighswonger is accused of felony sexual abuse of a minor as an offender who also occupied a position of authority in relation to the victims. He's accused of touching each child "hand to genitals," according to the indictment.
Nighswonger was terminated swiftly after a parent reported suspected abuse to the school's principal late last month.
A new teacher is scheduled to take over the classroom on Monday, Oct. 8, along with a second teacher who will be in the classroom in a support position, according to an email sent last week to students' families by Iditarod Elementary School principal Brian Porcello.
"As principal of this wonderful school, I have found solace in three things as this challenge unfolds. First and foremost, our kids are safe. Second, the support from families, community partners, and the school district has been tremendous and is a testament to the good days ahead," Porcello wrote in an email dated Oct. 5, the day the indictment against Nighswonger was filed in court.
"Third, we will help as many kids as we can to start the process of healing, so they can move forward with the support they deserve. Our number one priority is to identify any other potential victims so they can connect directly with law enforcement and receive support," Porcello wrote to parents.
Families with concerns about their own or other children are encouraged to contact the Wasilla Police Department at (907) 357-7877.
Families are also encouraged to use the resources at the side of this article to help with having conversations with their children about sexual abuse.