Iditarod musher reports getting groped during Alaska race

AP News
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Posted: Apr 04, 2016 8:04 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Authorities in Alaska were investigating after a female competitor in this year's Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race said two men on snowmobiles groped her as her mushing team passed by.

Alaska State Troopers were looking into the March 13 incident as harassment for now, James Lester said Monday. The 27-year-old rookie musher reported the groping at the checkpoint in the village of Nulato, almost 350 miles from the Nome finish line.

The incident happened a day after a man on a snowmobile intentionally drove into two top Iditarod teams, killing one dog and injuring others, authorities say.

Lester said he has been trying to contact the rookie musher and has not interviewed her yet. The woman, who went on to complete the 1,000-mile race, couldn't immediately be reached for comment by The Associated Press on Monday.

The AP generally does not name people who may have been a victim of a sex crime.

Lester described the groping as offensive touching on the buttocks.

The Iditarod released a timeline of the incident Friday, saying two men had stopped next to the trail, and the musher thought they wanted to give her a high-five. Race marshal Mark Nordman said in the release that he immediately contacted authorities after a race judge notified him.

Nordman referred questions to the timeline when reached Monday by phone. Asked if the groping and snowmobile attack this year would lead to changes, Nordman again referred to the timeline, which states that further discussion "will occur in coming months."

It is not clear why Iditarod officials did not release information about the incident earlier. Nordman and race CEO Stan Hooley did not return messages Monday seeking additional information.

The Iditarod quickly announced the March 12 snowmobile attack against the teams of musher Aliy Zirkle, who finished third this year, and four-time champion Jeff King, who came in ninth. One of King's dogs was killed, and others in both teams were injured.

In those cases, Arnold Demoski has been charged with assault, reckless endangerment and reckless driving. His attorney, Bill Satterberg, declined to comment on the case through his office Monday.

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