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ANCHORAGE (AP) — The director of the Bristol Bay Native Corp. is on leave following accusations that he raped a woman after a night of drinking.
Prosecutors allege that Sergie Chukwak sexually assaulted Karen Lopez Bakken on Nov. 5 at the woman’s home in Naknek.
Bakken’s mother told the Anchorage Daily News that her 48-year-old daughter killed herself last Sunday. Bristol Bay Borough Police are investigating the death.
The Associated Press generally does not name victims of sexual abuse, but her family has decided to speak publicly about the case.
Jason Metrokin, Bristol Bay Native Corp.’s president and chief executive, issued a statement this week in which he said, "Like many of our shareholders, I was saddened by the tragic news to come out of Naknek this week."
He went on to say he was "deeply troubled to learn of the sexual assault allegations against one of our directors."
"Most of all, our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of Karen Lopez Bakken, for whom I know this is a time of profound grief," the CEO’s statement said.
Chukwak, 45, told a magistrate on Monday that he is not guilty.
He was charged with second-degree sexual assault Nov. 8. The charge was later amended to four-degree assault because Chukwak could not be placed before a grand jury in a timely manner, said Assistant District Attorney Marianna Carpeneti.
The state may still pursue an indictment on the more serious charge of rape, she said.
In an email Tuesday to shareholders, Bristol Bay Native Corp. officials said Chukwak was on a "leave of absence" pending resolution of the criminal case.
The corporation represents more than 9,000 shareholders with ties to the Bristol Bay region of southwest Alaska.