A teacher in Alaska named John Mark Hammonds has been taken into custody after being accused of assaulting minors, according to officials.
Hammonds' case is the fourth time the Yupiit School District had been confronted with sexual assault allegations over the past decade.
On Sunday, Hammonds was arrested at his residence in Akiachak, Alaska. The authorities charged him with eight counts of felony sexual assault. Three of the counts involve the alleged assault of a victim under the age of 16, and five of the counts were associated with a victim under the age of 13.
A public defender has been assigned to Hammonds to represent him. The managing attorney for the Bethel Public Defender Agency, Nathaniel Hainjie, claimed that a specific attorney has not yet been assigned to the case and said he would not provide any additional comment.
During his arrest, Hammonds served as a teacher at the Akiachak school, which falls under the supervision of the Yupiit School District.
The district consists of three tiny villages, including Akiachak, Akiak, and Tuluksak.
The superintendent for the region, Scott George Ballard, explained that the chapter is aware of the allegations against Hammonds and is cooperating with Alaska State Troopers to help them resolve the case.
However, this isn't the first time the Yupitt School District has had to maneuver sexual assault cases before. For the past decade, the district has seen three other significant matters concerning sexual abuse that began in 2014.
The Yupiit District settled a $2 million civil lawsuit against a teacher named Martin Bowman, who was accused of raping nine female students. The Anchorage Daily News reported that the school district tried to keep the allegations a secret. As a result, Bowman was never prosecuted or went to jail.
Within the same year, in 2014, other disturbing allegations were made against the district. A teacher in Akiachak accused the district of failing to protect her from being raped in her own home. The teacher claimed the district provided her housing with no locks and she was sexually harassed in her residence regularly. She subsequently asked the school for more secure accommodation, and the school allegedly denied her request. Eventually, the teacher was allegedly raped while unconscious in housing.
In 2018, another teacher from the district named John Paul Donald Douglas, who lived in Tuluksak, was sentenced for possessing child pornography.
Hammonds reportedly worked with Douglas in the same school in 2017 before moving to his current school in Akiachak, where he was alleged with the sexual assault charges.
Just one year after Hammonds started his job with the Yupiit School District in 2016, he pled guilty to a charge of felony assault in the third degree concerning domestic violence.
Officials said his preliminary hearing for the latest alleged assault was scheduled for next Friday, Oct. 28. According to the law in Alaska, Hammonds could face up to 99 years in prison if he was found guilty of committing sexual assault in the first degree.