Navajo man pleads guilty to federal child sex assault offense
ALBUQUERQUE – United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, earlier today, Willis Yazzie, 32, an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation, pled guilty to aggravated sexual abuse before Chief United States Magistrate Judge Richard L. Puglisi under a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office. Under the terms of the plea agreement, Yazzie will be sentenced to a prison term of at least 180 months (15 years) but not more than 228 months (19 years) to be followed by a minimum five-year term of supervised release. Yazzie also will be required to register as a sex offender. Yazzie’s sentencing hearing has not been scheduled and he remains in custody pending that hearing.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, the authorities learned that Yazzie had been sexually abusing his two step-daughters, ages 13 and 10, on May 3, 2010, when the Navajo Nation Department of Social Services contacted the Navajo Nation Department of Public Safety (NNDPS). The complaint alleges that Yazzie’s 13-year-old step-daughter reported that Yazzie began abusing her in 2008, when she was 11 years old, and that the abuse continued until April 2010. It further alleges that Yazzie abused his 10-year-old step-daughter in April 2010.
Yazzie was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on May 10, 2010, after Yazzie admitted molesting his step-daughters during an interview with FBI agents and NNDPS officers. Yazzie has been in federal custody since his arrest. On June 10, 2010, a federal grand jury returned a two-count indictment charging Yazzie with (1) aggravated sexual abuse of a child under the age of 16, and (2) aggravated sexual abuse of a child under the age of 12. Today, Yazzie pleaded guilty to a one-count information charging him with aggravated sexual abuse. Under the terms of the plea agreement, the indictment will be dismissed after Yazzie is sentenced.
In his plea agreement, Yazzie admitted that, in March 2010, he sexually assaulted his 13- year-old step-daughter by inserting his finger into her vaginal opening. Yazzie further admitted that he engaged in this illegal conduct with the intention of abusing and humiliating the child and to gratify his own sexual desires. He also admitted that the sexual assault occurred in the familial home in Two Grey Hills, New Mexico, which is located within the boundaries of the Navajo Indian Reservation.
This case was investigated by the FBI and the NNDPS, Shiprock Division, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer M. Rozzoni.