Rachel Gernat to serve as special prosecutor in attorney general investigation

Published: Feb. 1, 2021 at 3:57 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Rachel Gernat has been appointed to work with law enforcement on the investigation of former Attorney General Ed Sniffen. He resigned last week, shortly before reports surfaced — alleging Sniffen, then a high school debate coach, of engaging in an inappropriate relationship with a 17-year-old student, 30 years ago.

Over the weekend, Gov. Mike Dunleavy ordered the newly-appointed Attorney General Treg Taylor to begin an investigation on the accusations against Sniffen. Gernat will serve as the special prosecutor in the case. Alaska’s New Source spoke with her about her role in the investigation on Monday evening.

“I have a lot of experience in the investigation, and if necessary, the prosecution of sexually based crimes in Alaska,” she said. “I also am not a current or recent employee of the Department of Law, and I do not know Mr. Sniffen personally or professionally.”

When asked whether she had spoken with Sniffen, or whether she knew if he planned to cooperate with investigators, Gernat declined to comment on the specifics of the case. She also declined to address her approach as a special prosecutor — given the fact that there is no statute of limitations for Mr. Sniffen’s alleged actions.

“I’m not going to base my decision off of what I’ve read in the paper. I’m going to base it off of a proper investigation through law enforcement,” Gernat said.

Ten years ago, Gernat served as a prosecutor in the criminal division, mostly in sex crime cases. Gernat has also served on the Council of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and has reviewed records for child abuse allegations for the Anchorage Archdiocese.

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