UPDATED: Bail for former elementary teacher increased to $1M after new sex abuse charges

Published: Feb. 8, 2019 at 5:15 PM AKST
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Updated Monday, Feb. 11:

A former elementary school teacher in the Mat-Su has had his bail increased to $1 million after 14 additional charges of sex abuse of a minor have been added to his docket.

At a bail hearing and arraignment in Palmer Monday afternoon, Lukis Nighswonger’s bail was increased to $500,000 appearance and $500,000 performance, after the additional charges were added. His bail had previously been set at $100,000 total.

Original story posted Friday, Feb. 8:

Prosecutors in Palmer have filed more than a dozen new sexual abuse charges against Lukis Nighswonger, a former elementary school teacher

after parents and students complained about inappropriate touching.

The once-popular teacher and coach now faces a total of 19 charges, with offenses dating as far back as 2002, according to court records available online.

The latest accusations date as recently as October, 2018 -- around the time he was arrested and arraigned.

At his initial court appearance in October, Nighswonger, who appeared by video, made an unusual comment to the court that the allegations were true. The statement was not an entry of plea, but made as the judge was going through routine procedures for assigning attorneys and setting future court dates.

During the investigation, Nighswonger told police he was a pedophile, according to a summary contained in the original charges.

Nighswonger had been a longtime teacher at Iditarod Elementary School until his arrest.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify the date of the most recent alleged offense. Nighswonger remains in custody.

Channel 2's Hank Davis and Kortnie Horazdovsky contributed to this story Monday afternoon.