Coast Guard petty officer charged with abusing boy

A 31-year-old Soldotna man, who is a United States Coast Guard second-class petty officer, has been charged with sexually abusing a 4-year-old boy who is the son of a woman known to the man.


John R. Blackman Jr.’s charges include second-degree sexual abuse of a minor, second- and third-degree assault and tampering with physical evidence. He paid a $2,500 performance bond and remains out of custody.


Soldotna Police officers investigated the allegations of abuse after receiving a March 4 call from the child’s mother. She reported bruising on the boy’s neck, arms, back, legs and genitals, according to court records. The alleged abuse happened at her home.


The child was taken to a registered sexual assault nurse examiner in Kenai who indicated the injuries were severe and would require follow up from a medical doctor, according to court records.


Blackman had periodic contact with the boy and his mother at their Soldotna home. The mother said she first became suspicious of the bruises two months earlier. Blackman allegedly claimed the bruises were caused by tripping and sledding accidents, according to court records. Shortly after, the mother allegedly took pictures of the bruises using a cell phone.


The mother recalled several times hearing her son crying while alone with Blackman. He would not allow her to see the boy and informed her he was handling the child’s behavior, according to court records.


Police report at one point the mother was “physically restrained” by Blackman when she tried entering a bathroom to see her son.


On Feb. 29, the mother said she discovered the photos on her phone were deleted. When she asked Blackman about the photos, he allegedly admitted to deleting them and told her not to call the police, because he “would lose everything,” according to court records.


Later, Officer Rory Espy interviewed the boy, who alleged Blackman used his hands to hurt his genitals. He also alleged Blackman punched him in the stomach, threw him down the stairs and hurt his arms because he was crying.


Defense attorney Andy Pevehouse has submitted a request for bail modification asking the court to permit Blackman to leave the state of Alaska if he is aboard a U.S. Coast Guard vessel for work purposes.


Blackman is allowed to work as long as he adheres to bail conditions. He was assigned earlier to the Coast Guard Marine Safety Detachment, Kenai, but is now attached to the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Hickory, a buoy tender homeported in Homer. Hickory periodically does missions outside of Alaska waters, including a planned mission March 17 to 26 to Ketchikan. Alaska state waters extend three miles from the coast.


The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting its own investigation, according to court records. Blackman has served in the Coast Guard for 11 years.


He performs import maintenance, such as sewage system and air conditioning repair, said Lt. Michael D. Newell during a March 9 court hearing.


A preliminary hearing is set for March 27 at the Kenai Courthouse.

Jerzy Shedlock can be reached at jerzy.shedlock@peninsulaclarion.com.

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