Former Soldotna-based trooper sentenced for attempted sexual abuse of a minor

63-year-old Vance Peronto was sentenced to eight years in prison with four suspended

Alaska State Troopers logo.

Alaska State Troopers logo.

A former Soldotna-based Alaska State Trooper was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison, with four years suspended, for a conviction of one count of attempted sexual abuse of a minor in the second degree.

A jury found Vance Peronto, 63, guilty in March following a two-week trial. The same jury failed to reach a unanimous decision regarding two counts of possession of child pornography that Peronto also faced.

According to previous Clarion reporting, Peronto was a 16-year veteran of the Alaska State Troopers and had been based in Soldotna for about a year and a half prior to his May 2018 arrest. Peronto was investigated by the Alaska Bureau of Investigation after receiving a report that Peronto had inappropriate contact with a 16-year-old.

Peronto had pulled the minor over for driving without the headlights on, then later contacted her through social media to establish a relationship, previous Clarion reporting says. The Alaska Department of Law in a Thursday press release said that investigators determined that Peronto had “sent extensive private, sexual comments to the minor and at times asked her to send him photographs.”

Peronto was ultimately arrested as part of a sting operation in which an investigator with the Alaska Bureau of Investigation posed as the victim and arranged for Peronto to meet at a hotel, the press release says. Peronto was arrested immediately upon arriving at the hotel.

During a sentencing hearing held Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Law said Assistant Attorney General Chris Darnall argued that an eight-year sentence, with four years suspended, was necessary to “reaffirm society norms.” Peronto countered that his conduct was the least serious and requested either a probationary sentence or a sentence of two years to serve, the department said.

“The prosecutor stressed that members of law enforcement must be held especially accountable when they commit serious crimes because otherwise Alaskans could lose faith in the entire criminal justice system,” the Alaska Department of Law press release says.

About three and a half years after Peronto’s arrest, another Soldotna-based Alaska State Trooper, Benjamin Strachan, was arrested for alleged sexual abuse of a minor. Strachan faces nine charges of sexual abuse of a minor in varying degrees.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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