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Stebbins Teacher Arrested for Explicit Messages Had License Previously Revoked for Other Offenses in Oregon

Snow-covered, rural Alaska street on a partly cloudy winter day.

A Stebbins teacher arrested on charges of attempted production of child pornography and enticement of a minor had previously had his teaching license revoked over incidents of sexual misconduct.

65-year-old Lon Dean Gillas allegedly used his Bering Strait School District Google account to discuss sex and ask for explicit photos from a minor. According to an Alaska Public Media report, Gillas believed the girl to be 16-years-old. It is a federal crime to solicit explicit photos from anyone under 18.  The underage girl did not live in Alaska.

BSSD Superintendent Dr. Bobby Bolen told KNOM that Gillas began teaching in BSSD in August of 2010. Before coming to Alaska, Gillas had been on probation in the state of Oregon for using school computers to look at sexually explicit material.

According to the Oregon Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, Gillas first used school computers to look at sexually explicit materials in 2005 and was put on probation in 2006. He allegedly continued to violate those terms by viewing explicit materials on school computers through 2008, with at least two students witnessing his behavior. The materials were not reported to contain images of minors.

The State of Oregon officially revoked his teaching license in December 2010, after Gillas had begun teaching in Stebbins.

BSSD’s Bolen said the district was not aware of Gillas’s previous inappropriate behavior and fallout with the State of Oregon.

“We were not aware of it until we started our investigation as well, but we were not aware of it beforehand.”

– Dr. Bobby Bolen

Bolen told the Anchorage Daily News that if the district had known about the revoked license it would be a, “red flag” and that Gillas, “had probably fell through the gap.”

The Bering Strait School District was made aware of Gillas’s alleged recent misconduct with a teenager outside of Alaska through a tip sent on social media. That triggered an internal investigation of the teacher’s accounts before BSSD turned the investigation over to Alaska State Troopers and the FBI. 

“We have not had any issues with Mr. Gillas in his ten years of employment, so this was the first that it came to our attention and we wanted to deal with it swiftly.”

– Dr. Bobby Bolen

Bolen was not the superintendent who hired Gillas in 2010. He says that current hiring practices for BSSD teachers include having them get fingerprinting and background checks conducted by AST.

Unlike recent cases, like in Wales where teacher Amos Oxerok molested multiple girls, Bolen does not believe that Gillas engaged in misconduct with minors in Stebbins. But he says, the district is trying to learn from that previous incident, and this one, by doing better training and monitoring of BSSD staff’s usage of technology.

Gillas is currently jailed in Anchorage. Bolen says BSSD will continue to cooperate in the investigation.

Image at top: A residential street in Stebbins, Alaska, during the winter. Photo: Emily Russell, KNOM file.

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