Man Pleads Guilty To Habitual Domestic Assault
MINNEAPOLIS—Yesterday in federal court, a 48-year-old man pleaded guilty to being a habitual offender who committed domestic assault against a woman on the Bois Forte Indian Reservation. On April 30, 2013, Mark Allen Isham specifically pleaded guilty to one count of domestic assault by an habitual offender. Isham, who was indicted on December 3, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge David S. Doty. This is the third time the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota has prosecuted someone under the federal “domestic assault by an habitual offender” statute.
In his plea agreement, Isham admitted that on August 22, 2012, he struck the victim and threw her to the ground, causing bodily injury. The assault followed at least two prior convictions in Bois Forte Tribal Court for similar crimes. They occurred in 2004, 2008, and 2010.
The federal law that governs domestic assault by a habitual offender was enacted by Congress in 2006 in support of the Violence Against Women Act of 2000. The 2006 statute is a valuable tool for federal prosecutors because research shows that many domestic violence offenders are repeat offenders.
This statute is of particular importance in Indian Country because domestic violence rates are far greater there than in the country at large. In 2005, Congress reported that one in three American Indian women is raped during her lifetime. American Indian women are also nearly three times more likely to be battered during their lives than Caucasian women.
The U.S. Justice Department is taking steps to increase engagement, coordination, and action relative to public safety in tribal communities, including the creation of the Violence Against Women Federal and Tribal Prosecution Task Force. This task force will explore current issues raised by professionals in the field and recommend “best practices” for prosecution involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
For his crimes, Isham faces a potential maximum penalty of five years in federal prison. Judge Doty will determine his sentence at a future hearing, not yet scheduled.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Bois Forte Tribal Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Deidre Y. Aanstad.
Because the Bois Forte Indian Reservation is a federal-jurisdiction reservation, some of the crimes that occur there are investigated by the FBI in conjunction with the Bois Forte Tribal Police Department. Those cases are prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.