Eek VPSO arrested for sex assault, human trafficking

Boardwalks in Eek, Alaska in 2010 (Photo from DCRA Community Photo Database)

A 22-year-old village public safety officer in the Southwest Alaska community of Eek was arrested Sunday and charged with human trafficking and sexual assault of a woman he contacted as part of a police investigation, according to Alaska State Troopers.

Troopers say Village Public Safety Officer James Heakin was called to investigate a domestic violence assault in Eek in June.

A few days later, Heakin returned to take more photos of the woman’s injuries for the police report, troopers said in a statement in support of the charges.

Heakin took the woman into her bathroom to take the photos, the statement said. Heakin sexually assaulted her, it said. The woman told troopers that he told her not to say anything.

On July 30, an Eek village police officer alerted the Bethel-based troopers that the woman reported Heakin had sexually assaulted her. Troopers arrested Heakin on Aug. 2.

Heakin faces three felony counts of sexual assault. The charging document says that he also faces one felony count of human trafficking for compelling the woman “to engage in sexual conduct by deception.” His first hearing was held Aug. 3 in Bethel.

The Association of Village Council Presidents, which oversees the VPSO program in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta, hired Heakin in 2019, according to a post on Facebook. The tribal nonprofit declined to comment.