News and Press Releases

Ramah Navajo Man Pleads Guilty to
Aggravated Sexual Abuse of Navajo Teenager

Defendant Prosecuted as Part of Federal Initiative to Address
the Epidemic Incidence of Violence Against Native Women

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 3, 2014

ALBUQUERQUE – Sabastiano Coho, 24, a member of the Ramah Chapter of the Navajo Nation, pleaded guilty yesterday afternoon to an aggravated sexual assault charge under a plea agreement with the U.S. Attorney’s Office. 

Coho was arrested on Feb. 18, 2011, on a criminal complaint charging him with aggravated sexual abuse and subsequently indicted on March 9, 2011.  According to court filings, Coho sexually assaulted the victim, a 19-year-old Navajo woman, on Jan. 25, 2011, in a location within the Navajo Indian Reservation in Cibola County, N.M.  Proceedings in the case were delayed as a result of competency evaluations.

In entering his guilty plea, Coho admitted to engaging in a sexual act, by using force, with the victim on Jan. 25, 2011.

Coho has been in federal custody since his arrest and remains detained pending his sentencing hearing, which has yet to be scheduled.  Under the terms of the plea agreement, Coho will be sentenced to 50 months in federal prison followed by a term of supervised release to be determined by the court.  Coho also will be required to register as a sex offender.

This case was investigated by the Gallup office of the FBI and the Navajo-Ramah Tribal Police Department and is being prosecuted by Special Assistant U.S. Attorney David Adams.  It was brought pursuant to the Tribal Special Assistant U.S. Attorney (Tribal SAUSA) Pilot Project in the District of New Mexico which is sponsored by the Justice Department’s Office on Violence Against Women under a grant administered by the Pueblo of Laguna.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project seeks to train tribal prosecutors in federal law, procedure and investigative techniques to increase the likelihood that every viable violent offense against Native women is prosecuted in either federal court or tribal court, or both.  The Tribal SAUSA Pilot Project was largely driven by input gathered from annual tribal consultations on violence against women, and is another step in the Justice Department's on-going efforts to increase engagement, coordination and action on public safety in tribal communities.

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