JUNEAU – Governor Bill Walker announced Thursday that Attorney General Craig Richards hired Patricia Collins, former presiding judge for the Superior Court in Juneau, as a special investigator on the recent issues that surfaced regarding the Alaska National Guard. Judge Collins has been tasked with taking a comprehensive look into the circumstances surrounding allegations of sexual abuse and harassment within the National Guard and reporting her findings.
“I am pleased that Ms. Collins was willing to take on this task,” Governor Bill Walker said. “It is crucial that we have an independent review of the allegations and how they were handled to ensure that those who did wrong are held accountable. I can’t think of anyone better to do that than Patricia Collins, who brings a wealth of judicial and criminal law experience to the investigation.”
Patricia Collins originally came to Alaska in 1977 to take a job as a night auditor. She decided to stay and eventually became a commercial fisherwoman and state Fish and Game Department staffer before going back to school.
After receiving her law degree from Gonzaga University in 1982, Judge Collins began a long career practicing law in Alaska, much of it spent on criminal justice issues. She started her career in private practice, focusing mainly on labor law and criminal defense issues until 1995. During that time, she worked part-time as a federal magistrate judge and as an adjunct professor for the University of Alaska Southeast. In 1995, she was appointed as an Alaska district court judge, and then in 1999, Governor Tony Knowles appointed her as a superior court judge for the first judicial district in Juneau. She was subsequently appointed by the chief justice as the presiding judge overseeing the first judicial district, a post which she held until her retirement in 2011.
As the special investigator, Ms. Collins will prepare a written report of her findings to assist Governor Walker in addressing the issues within the Alaska National Guard. The investigation will focus on incidents alleged to have occurred between September 1, 2010 and November 30, 2014. The investigation will include the following:
– the nature of each allegation investigated;
– whether the allegation was adequately investigated by state or local law enforcement;
– if the case was referred for prosecution, whether the case was handled appropriately by the district attorney’s office;
– whether any investigations handled by law enforcement were communicated to an executive branch employee—aside from the district attorney’s office;
– recommendations on cases requiring further investigation; and
– recommendations on how such matters should be handled in the future.
A public version of the report is expected to be released this summer, unless additional time is needed for the investigation. Anyone with information that could help in the investigation should send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.