“I will not be silenced”: Sexual assault survivor speaks out

By Diana Haecker
In a court hearing that spread out over two days, Jacob Olanna, 39, accused of sexually assaulting a young  woman mid-November 2021, accepted a plea bargain and was sentenced to 30 months in jail,15 suspended, a two-year probation period and a no-contact order with the victim. Olanna was originally charged with a sexual assault in the third degree, violating conditions of release and criminal trespass in the first degree.
According to court documents, Olanna, a janitor at the Savoonga school, and his wife visited Nome from Savoonga and met up with acquaintances at a Nome bar on November 16, 2021. After a night at the bar, Olanna and his wife ended up staying at the home of the acquaintances. According to an affidavit filed with the court, sometime during the night, Olanna was seen rubbing the female host inappropriately while grabbing his crotch. The victim’s boyfriend saw the act and confronted Olanna. The victims reported the crime and charges were pressed on December 16, 2021.
In last week’s court proceedings, the Assistant District Attorney Ashly Crockett proposed a plea bargain from Sexual Assault in the third degree to a charge of coercion, still a C class felony charge. Sexual assault in the third degree is defined as engaging in sexual contact with a person who the perpetrator knows is incapacitated or unaware that a sexual act is being committed.
But then Nome Superior Court Judge Romano DiBenedetto heard from the survivor of the assault. She identified herself as Adrianne Okoomealingok and consented to be on the record with her full name. In a follow up phone call, she expressly told The Nugget that she wants to be identified and not be a faceless victim. “I will not stay silent,” she said. “I am using my voice to be heard.” Her resolve and bravery to tell her story in the court proceeding stem from her a traumatic experience in her childhood and from the hope to inspire other victims of sexual assault to pursue their assailants to the full extent of the law.
Okoomealingok read into the court record her statement. “I would like to speak out not only on my behalf, but of those who are afraid to come forward in these types of situations,” she said. She described the trauma inflicted by Olanna that left her with physical and emotional scars. “The residual effect this offense caused in my personal life and obstructed my ability to function at a normal level,” she said. “God only knows who he all got to, before me.” She said she was afraid to come forward but that she did and that she has worked through her own struggles in response to this trauma, but cooperated fully with the police and district attorney so that justice can be done.
She also added that she is a survivor of “a traumatic incident that happened to me as an adolescent, at 14, which consisted of my biological father molesting me with class A, B, C and an unclassified Felony Assault charge.” She said she worked with District Attorney John Earthman on that case for two years as an adolescent. Her father was convicted of the crimes and won’t come out of jail until she’s in her 40s, she said. “This was severe to my mental and physical wellbeing for a number of years. What he [Olanna] did, triggered that part of my life. It will not go unnoticed. I will use my voice. I will not be quiet. I’ve been to every single hearing since the incident occurred.”
As she was hoping for a jury trial, the unthinkable happened. Okoomealingok’s biggest support and the key witness in the case died in December. When the judge questioned the downgrading of the original charge after hearing Okoomealingok’s statement, Crockett explained that the key eyewitness died and that with his death the state’s ability to prove the case as charged changed significantly, hence the agreement to a resolution for a non-sex felony instead of the sexual assault charge.
Crockett said that the survivor was consulted throughout the process.
Okoomealingok asked that the court considers the severity of the trauma that Olanna inflicted on her and stated her concern that she may encounter him once he’s “out” as she has family in Savoonga whom she visits and his mother is living across the street from her residence in Nome. She asked for a 500-ft. no contact order, which was granted in the sentencing. Addressing Olanna, she said, “I will not stay quiet about this incident. The people have a right to know what you are capable of.”
On Feb. 17, Olanna pleaded guilty to one charge of coercion and was sentenced to 30 months in jail, 15 months suspended, two years probation and several conditions, including a 500-ft. no contact order with Okoomealingok.
In an interview with the Nugget, Okoomealingok said that she couldn’t let the assault she suffered slide. She said she had support in family, her partner and sought out therapy, which helped her. Despite having been traumatized by her father’s assault at age 14, family members were trying to silence her. After being assaulted by Olanna as she was in her early 20’s, she found it important to keep fighting for justice. She hopes that through her example of fighting, of speaking out and offering support, other sexual assault survivors come forward and report crimes committed so that perpetrators don’t get away with sexual assaults.

The Nome Nugget

PO Box 610
Nome, Alaska 99762

Phone: (907) 443-5235
Fax: (907) 443-5112


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