Robert J. May, a pilot and air traffic controller at the King Salmon tower, is accused of 10 counts of sexual abuse of a minor, including for incidents alleged to have occurred mid-flight.
This article has been updated.
An air taxi pilot and air traffic controller in King Salmon has been accused of multiple counts of sexually abusing a minor, some of which allegedly took place during flights along the Alaska Peninsula.
Audio transcript: Robert Joseph May, 37, was arrested Friday after a lengthy investigation by state troopers. May is a contract air traffic controller for the King Salmon FAA tower, and is the owner of RJ Aviation LLC., an air taxi service which he has had a state business license for since 2011.
He allegedly carried on a months’ long sexual relationship with a 15-year-old girl from King Salmon. The four incidents the troopers described occurred once in King Salmon, twice in Anchorage, and twice mid-flight on routes along the Alaska Peninsula.
“Meaning that there would have been some sort of relinquishing of the control of the plane while they took place, which is obviously very concerning,” said assistant district attorney Paul Miovas, who oversees criminal cases in the Naknek court. “But any situation where you have a man of this age engaged in this kind of conduct is very serious, and the state takes it very seriously,” he said.
Based on victim interviews, troopers believe May put his Cessna 182 on autopilot to engage in the sexual activity, leaving the pilot’s seat, and at least once filming it on a GoPro camera.
Another woman claimed May made unwanted sexual advances at her during a flight from King Salmon to Anchorage in August 2015. She told troopers May put his hand on her leg, asked her to share nude photos of herself, and made references to joining the “Mile High Club.” She did not immediately report the behavior to authorities.
Miovas said troopers will continue looking for more witnesses and victims of this alleged behavior.
“It often is the case that when these kind of charges become public, additional victims will contact the police or the troopers, and those will be fully investigated if they come forward,” he said.
Robert J. May worked as an air traffic controller on contract with the FAA at the King Salmon tower. Details of his employment record, and whether or not he was still employed by the contractor, were not learned Tuesday. His startup, RJ Aviation, is relatively new on the Bristol Bay scene, flying routes all around the region and into Anchorage. The state lists his business license as active since 2011. A Cessna 182 has been registered to May since 2009, and a Piper Cherokee has been registered in his name since 2011.
May was arraigned Sunday. Dillingham Superior Court Judge Pat Douglass set bail at $100,000, which is considered higher than usual for criminal cases in the Naknek court. Miovas said the state viewed May as a potential flight risk, and also believed, based on his assets, the higher bail was appropriate.
If convicted, Robert May faces a presumptive range of 5-15 years on each of the 10 counts of sexual abuse of a minor. He has also been charged with reckless endangerment and reckless operation of an aircraft.
Hannah Colton contributed to this report. Reach the author at email@example.com or 907.842.5281.
Original story from Tuesday morning. In an online dispatch, Alaska State Troopers said a months-long investigation led to the arrest of 40-year-old Robert Joseph May, who owns and operates RJ Aviation out of King Salmon.
May was arrested Friday night and charged with five counts each of 2nd- and 3rd-degree Sexual Abuse of a Minor, as well as one count of Reckless Endangerment. He’s being held without bail at the King Salmon jail.
State Troopers are asking that anyone with information regarding similar complaints against May contact the King Salmon Post at (907) 246-3464.