Stebbins teacher arrested after sexually explicit chats with girl

The village of Stebbins (Alaska Department of Community and Regional Affairs photo)

A teacher in the Western Alaska village of Stebbins is charged with attempted production of child pornography and enticement of a minor, according to federal charges.

Lon Dean Gillas, 65, is alleged to have used his Google account with the Bering Strait School District to chat about sex and BDSM with a 16-year-old girl, and to ask her for explicit photos. According to the charges, the victim does not live in Alaska, and Gillas allegedly asked her to fly up to be his sex slave.

About 650 people live in Stebbins, on St. Michael Island in Norton Sound.

Bering Strait Superintendent Bobby Bolen said the school district discovered the chat message Thursday or Friday, after someone on Facebook claiming to know Gillas accused him of inappropriate behavior.

Bolen said the school district notified the Alaska State Troopers, who passed the case to the FBI.

“We try to stay vigilant to the safety of our students and young people,” Bolen said. “Anything that looks suspicious to us, we try to make sure that gets to the right authorities.”

Investigators say the crimes occurred around June 20, but the last chat between Gillas and the girl happened July 12. The FBI agent interviewed Gillas on Monday and the charges against him were filed Tuesday.

Gillas told an FBI agent he had met the girl through her mother, whom he knew from a BDSM fetish website. According to the charges, he admitted to directing the girl to engage in sexual activity, including with other people, and to asking her for photos, which the girl never sent.

“Throughout the interview, the subject stated he believed the minor victim was 16 years old,” the charges say.

As the charges note, it is against federal law to try to persuade anyone under 18 to create sexually explicit images.

Bolen, the superintendent, said the district has no knowledge of any inappropriate behavior with students, staff or community members and is continuing to work with investigators.

Gillas was one of 18 teachers in Stebbins and had worked there for 10 years.

“We haven’t had any discipline issue with him over that time,” Bolen said.

Asked if the school district is continuing to investigate whether Gillas had inappropriate interactions with anyone in Stebbins, Bolen said there will be a counselor working with students when they return to school in the fall.

As of Wednesday, Gillas was jailed in Anchorage.

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Casey Grove is host of Alaska News Nightly and a general assignment reporter at Alaska Public Media. cgrove [at] alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8446 | About Casey

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