Ex-state nurse charged for child pornography treated children in rural Alaska
For more than a decade, traveling nurse Michael J. Cassista worked in rural Alaska communities treating children.
Now, he's in Department of Corrections custody, facing 10 counts of possession of child pornography.
Friday, a news release from the Alaska Attorney General's Office revealed Cassista, 52, worked as a nurse for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services.
According to a DHSS spokesperson, Cassista's employment with the department began in 2005. He first served as a public health nurse based in Wasilla, at the Mat-Su Public Health Center. In 2007, he moved into a traveling nurse position, which means for more than a decade, he visited rural communities, treating both adults and children.
According to the state, some of the services he provided in rural Alaska included vaccinations and tuberculosis monitoring and testing.
DHSS says it is not aware of any accusations against Cassista from clients or coworkers, but encourage any victim of abuse to report to law enforcement.
The full statement from DHSS Communications Director Clinton Bennett reads:
"The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services (DHSS) continues to cooperate fully with law enforcement on this matter. DHSS is not aware of any allegations made by current or former clients or employees against Michael J. Cassista, but we encourage any victim of abuse to report their case to law enforcement. The safety of youth and employees is a top priority for DHSS. Michael J. Cassista started with DHSS in 2005 as a Public Health Nurse I (PHN I), based in Wasilla at the Mat-Su Public Health Center. In 2007, he transitioned into a Public Health Nurse III (PHN III) itinerant nurse position, stationed in Anchorage. In this role Cassista traveled to rural communities for work. In 2019, he remained in the same job but worked out of the Mat-Su Public Health Center. Itinerant public health nurses travel to rural Alaska communities to provide both individual and community-based nursing services, for both adults and children. Some of these services include vaccination/immunization and tuberculosis monitoring and testing. If you have any information about this matter you should contact Investigator Eric Taylor (Alaska State Troopers), firstname.lastname@example.org, 907-375-7711 or if you have any questions about this matter you should contact Chris Darnall (Department of Law) email@example.com, 907-269-6250."
On Friday, Bennett said Cassista resigned Sept. 15, 2019.
Cassista was arraigned Saturday, Sept. 28. According to online court records, he has a bail hearing scheduled for Thursday in Anchorage.
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