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Press Release

Jess James Rutherford, Jr. Pleads Guilty In U.S. Federal Court

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Montana

The United States Attorney's Office announced that during a federal court session in Great Falls, on July 18, 2013, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Strong, JESS JAMES RUTHERFORD, JR., a 28-year-old resident of Heart Butte and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Tribe, pled guilty to assault resulting in serious bodily injury. Sentencing has been set for October 22, 2013. He is currently detained.

In an Offer of Proof filed by Assistant U.S. Attorney Ryan G. Weldon, the government stated it would have proved at trial the following:

On April 23, 2013, "S.S." was interviewed about the assault by RUTHERFORD. "S.S." and RUTHERFORD had dated for eight months. On the night in question, "S.S." stated that RUTHERFORD was drinking with his friends, and the friends left. "S.S." explained that she was also drinking and she lived in the house with RUTHERFORD. Despite living together, RUTHERFORD locked "S.S." outside. "S.S." wanted back inside to get her bag. RUTHERFORD told her that he burned her bag but eventually let her inside.

The beating then ensued. RUTHERFORD threw "S.S." to the ground, stomped on her, and punched her repeatedly. Specifically, RUTHERFORD stomped on "S.S.'s" neck, back, and legs. He was hitting her with a "backhand" at first, but then, when she was on her belly, he started stomping on her, and eventually stomped on her chest and breasts. The pictures of "S.S.'s" breasts show deep bruising on her breasts and chest.

S.S." explained that RUTHERFORD was calling her a "*****" while he was hitting her. Her underwear were also torn. She stated that RUTHERFORD was trying to pull her pants down, and he ripped her underwear off. He was also dragging her around by the hair. "S.S." stated that she was not knocked unconscious, and RUTHERFORD, when kicking her, was wearing regular tennis shoes. "S.S." did not know why RUTHERFORD stopped.

The beating lasted for approximately a half hour, beginning at 2:30 a.m. After the beating, "S.S." waited for RUTHERFORD to fall asleep so that she could leave. She then ran to a neighbor.

After arriving at the neighbor's house, "S.S." went to the hospital. The attending physician stated that "S.S." had two broken ribs on her left side. The victim also had a bilateral and impacted nasal fracture. "S.S." described her pain as a ten out of ten, with ten being the worst. "S.S." described in an interview two days after the assault that her fingers and mouth were still numb.

RUTHERFORD faces possible penalties of 10 years in prison, a $250,000 fine and 3 years supervised release.

The investigation was conducted by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Updated January 14, 2015