News and Press Releases

Jicarilla Apache Woman Pleads Guilty to Being an
Accessory to Sex Abuse Involving a Navajo Child

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 29, 2013

ALBUQUERQUE – Rosabelle Ben, 58, a member of the Jicarilla Apache Nation who resides in Shiprock, N.M., pleaded guilty this afternoon to being an accessory to the sexual abuse of a minor.  Under the terms of her plea agreement, Rosabelle Ben 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.  Rosabelle Ben will be required to register as a sex offender when she completes her prison sentence.

Rosabelle Ben and co-defendants Herbert Ben, Sr., 63, a member of the Navajo Nation who resides in Shiprock, and Bruce Hamilton, 77, a non-native resident of 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.

In her plea agreement, Rosabelle Ben admitted that between Aug. 1, 2010 and Dec. 11, 2011, she made a child between the ages of 12 and 15 available to Hamilton so that Hamilton could engage in a sexual act with the child.  Rosabelle Ben further admitted that Hamilton paid her with money and alcohol for making the child victim available to him.  She further admitted that the offense occurred on the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Herbert Ben, Sr., pled guilty on July 31, 2013, to sexual abuse of a minor and admitted that, on a date between Aug. 2010 and Dec. 2011, he sexually abused a minor at a location within the Navajo Reservation.  Hamilton pled guilty on Aug. 19, 2013, to sexually abusing a minor and admitted sexually abusing a Navajo child between the age of 12 and 15 on a date between Aug. 2010 and Dec. 2011.  Both men admitted committing these crimes on the Navajo Indian Reservation.  At sentencing, each man faces 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.  Each also will be required to register as a sex offender when he completes his prison sentence.

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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