Beraiah James Hugs Pleads Guilty in U.S. Federal Cour
Bill Mercer, United States Attorney for the District of Montana, announced today that during a federal court session in Billings on March 3, 2009, before Chief U.S. District Judge Richard F. Cebull, BERAIAH JAMES HUGS, a 22-year-old resident of Crow Agency, pled guilty to sexual abuse of a minor. Sentencing is set for June 4, 2009. He is currently released on special conditions.
In an Offer of Proof filed by the United States, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:
Starting in June of 2008, during an unrelated sexual assault investigation, agents learned that HUGS, age 21, was involved in an ongoing sexual relationship with a 14-year-old female.
When interviewed by law enforcement, the victim stated that she had known HUGS most of her life - he was a good friend of her older brother. She stated that she first became involved in a sexual relationship with HUGS in May of 2008. The first time they had sex, they drank alcohol together and had sex to celebrate the victim's graduation from 7th grade. The relationship continued until June 2008 and they had had sex approximately six times during that time period. They always had sex at HUGS' home in Crow Agency. They kept the relationship a secret because they were afraid HUGS would be sent to jail because the victim is underage.
HUGS was also interviewed by agents. He initially stated that he was "only friends" with the victim. Upon further questioning, however, HUGS admitted that they were involved in an ongoing sexual relationship and he was aware that she was underage.
HUGS faces possible penalties of 15 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and lifetime supervision.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori Harper Suek prosecuted the case for the United States.
The investigation was a cooperative effort between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
A copy of the Offer of Proof can be obtained by contacting Sally Frank at (406) 247-4638.