Two men accused of sexual abuse of 14-year-old

Posted: Wednesday, October 03, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Charges have been filed against two men accused of sexually abusing a 14-year-old girl who was the alleged victim in another abuse case filed last month.

Fairbanks police charged Wendell J. Ward, 23, of Fairbanks and Delane A. McElrath, 24, a Fort Wainwright sergeant, with second-degree sexual abuse of a minor.

In September the girl was reportedly living with another man, 31-year-old Eduardo Michel-Soler, after she ran away with him from Anchorage. The girl told Alaska State Troopers she had told Michel-Soler she was only 14 and that he continued to have sex with her.

Michel-Soler was arrested and has been in jail on $50,000 bail since Sept. 23. After the girl was interviewed by investigators on that day, she was released to a Fairbanks shelter, according to Trooper Sgt. Ron Wall.

The girl ran away from the shelter and eventually met up with Ward and McElrath, who took her back to Ward's apartment on Friday, according to a criminal complaint.

Police were tipped to the case and found the intoxicated girl on a couch in the apartment. The complaint states the girl had a blood-alcohol level of 0.30, more than three times the adult legal limit of 0.08.

The girl was taken to Fairbanks Memorial Hospital, where she told police she was picked up by two men she thought she knew from Anchorage.

She said she didn't consent to having sex with the men and didn't remember having sex with them. She said they had been drinking and she blacked out. Police found a nearly empty vodka container in the apartment, the complaint states.

Ward and McElrath were interviewed at the Fairbanks Police station, where they admitted having sex with the girl.

Ward was arrested for probation violation for a 1998 assault conviction and McElrath was released. On Monday, Ward was served with a summons for the sexual abuse of a minor case and McElrath was arrested at the Fort Wainwright Provost Marshal Office.

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