Almost two decades after near-fatal elementary school stabbing, the state is garnishing victim's PFD for legal fees related to incident

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Editor's note: Shortly after this story aired on Channel 2, Gov. Dunleavy and Alaska Attorney General Kevin Clarkson officially relieved stabbing victim Stephan Hansell from his obligation to pay legal fees in his nearly 20-year-old case. Read the story here.

Original story: Nearly 20 years ago to this month, Stephen Hansell was the victim of a violent stabbing at an Anchorage elementary school. He and a group of other kids were attacked by a man intent on taking the lives of the young students.

Hansell, now 26, was just 8 years old at the time of the incident, but it's still costing him today - both literally and figuratively.

In May of 2001, Jason Pritchard walked onto the campus of Mountain View Elementary School and tried to kill a group of children there.

"He was standing before me," Hansell said Wednesday. "There was people yelling. It was just me and him in the classroom. I just didn't know what to think, seeing this grown man with a knife standing in front of me."

"It hits a little differently now that you're grown up," he said, "now that you have time to think about it."

Hansell has now spent nearly two decades with reminders of that fateful day, including the scar that stretched from the top of his head to his clavicle.

"Thirty-four stitches on the outside," he said. "I don't know how many on the inside. All the way down. Like, wow ... That's something I lived through."

The same goes for the passing of his convicted attacker, who died in an Alaska jail this past March.

"A lot of different memories came flooding back," Hansell said.

To add to the dismay, Hansell said his Permanent Fund Dividend check has been garnished every year following a lawsuit after the incident - filed in his name, by adults - when he was a boy. The case was lost, and since Hansell was one of the plaintiffs, he got stuck with a massive bill to help cover legal fees and other court costs. He said he wants change for future generations so that they don't have to relive their trauma the way he does.

"I'd hate to have this happen to them," he said. "They have to pay for it, and it brings back those memories that you - growing up - put to the wayside a little bit."

Channel 2 reached out to the PFD Office Wednesday, but received no response. The office's website shows deductions and withholdings can be made for various reasons, including specific court orders.

For assistance with behavior and health-care services, you can contact agencies such as Anchorage Community Mental Health Services, Inc.

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