News and Press Releases

Non-Native Man From Shiprock Pleads Guilty to Federal
Child Sex Abuse Charge Involving Navajo Child

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 19, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE – Bruce Hamilton, 77, a non-Native who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty this morning to sexually abusing a minor.  Under the terms of his plea agreement, Hamilton will be sentenced to a federal prison term within the range of two to five years followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.  Hamilton will be required to register as a sex offender when he completes his prison sentence.

Hamilton and co-defendants Herbert Ben, Sr., 63, and Rosabelle Ben, 58, both members of the Navajo Nation from Shiprock, were arrested in May 2012, based on a criminal complaint alleging child sex abuse offenses.  All three subsequently were indicted and charged with sexual abuse of a child between the age of 12 and 16 years, and aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of a child.

Today, Hamilton pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a ward or minor and admitted sexually abusing a Navajo child between the age of 12 and 15 years on a date between Aug. 2010 and Dec. 2011.  Hamilton further admitted committing this crime in a building located within the Navajo Indian Reservation. 

Co-defendant Ben, Sr., pleaded guilty on July 31, 2013, to sexual abuse of a minor and admitted that, on a day between Aug. 2010 and Dec. 2011, he sexually abused the victim at a location within the Navajo Reservation.   Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ben, Sr., will be sentenced to a federal prison term within the range of two to five years followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.  Ben, Sr., also will be required to register as a sex offender. 

Co-defendant Rosabelle Ben has entered a not guilty plea and is pending trial.  The charges against Rosabelle Ben are merely accusations and she is presumed innocent unless found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case was investigated by the Farmington office of the FBI and the Shiprock office of the Navajo Nation Division of Public Safety.  It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jacob A. Wishard and Novaline D. Wilson as part of Project Safe Childhood, a nationwide initiative launched in May 2006 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to combat the growing epidemic of child sexual exploitation and abuse.  Led by United States Attorneys’ Offices and DOJ’s Criminal Division’s Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section, Project Safe Childhood marshals federal, state and local resources to better locate, apprehend and prosecute individuals who exploit children via the Internet, as well as to identify and rescue victims.  For more information about Project Safe Childhood, please visit http://www.justice.gov/psc/.

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